The life of a college student moves at a frantic pace. Between attending lectures, studying hard, and working a part-time job so you’re not living on ramen, there never seems to be enough time for your passions. However, you shouldn’t give up on the activities that make your heart full. These smart strategies will help you find time for your passions without letting your responsibilities slide.

Analyze How You Use Your Time

Think critically about the ways you spend your time. What are you doing because you need to and what are you doing simply because you feel you should? Are you wasting any time? Some things are nonnegotiable, like attending class and studying. However, you probably do many things because you feel obligated or aren’t really thinking about them.

Whether it’s attending keggers to keep friends company or mindlessly thumbing through social media, there may be activities you can reduce or eliminate altogether. Don’t be afraid to say no. Making time for the things that really matter to you will make you much happier than people pleasing.

Prioritize Your Passion

Scheduling makes sure you never miss a lecture, a shift at work, or a group study session with friends. One of the key reasons you’re not spending time pursuing your passions is because they haven’t made your schedule. Allocate time to indulge in the things that really interest you, and take that appointment as seriously as you would any other. You wouldn’t bail on your professor or boss, so don’t bail on yourself.

Perhaps you want to take a yoga class or start surfing. Stop procrastinating and do it now! Join a local group and make sure that you’re free the times they meet. Perhaps your passion is something more solitary like reading, drawing, or hiking. While these passions don’t have organized groups, you can schedule time for them, too. Take the time you make for your passions seriously. Lock the door, switch off your phone, and focus on what makes you happy. If you share a dorm, indulge your passion in a park or somewhere else you won’t be disturbed.

Choose a Job That Reflects Your Passion

Many college students wait tables or tend bar to make ends meet. While these jobs may be the most plentiful, they’re not your only options. Consider whether you can use your passion to make money instead.

If you love acting, audition for parts in commercials or TV shows. If you love dancing or playing an instrument, see whether you could make some extra money teaching children. If you love cooking or creating arts and crafts, try selling your products at local markets. The job you take doesn’t need to be your career. It can simply be a fun way to make money right now.

Finding time for your passions helps you keep stress at bay and avoid burnout while you’re studying. Making that time can be tricky, but with these smart strategies, you can juggle the things you love and your responsibilities during your college years.

Landing the perfect summer internship can be done with the right preparation and work. Don’t wait until the end of the semester when you’re wrapped up in finals to start the process of looking and applying for internships — make sure to get started early.

Use Strategic Networking

There are tons of online resources out there for potential interns, but you can broaden your networking horizons and do things the old-fashioned way. Think about who you know and what their connections might be. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family about their knowledge of potential internship opportunities. You can do this by word-of-mouth or by using social media connections to your advantage.

The available online internship resources include several websites dedicated to matching high school and college students with their perfect summer jobs. Check out sites like YouTern or Internships.com where you can browse opportunities in various geographical areas and areas of interest.

Make a Plan

Don’t start the process of finding a summer internship without some kind of game plan. You want to make sure you know what you want before you start looking or things could get overwhelming very quickly. Make a list of companies and fields of research you’re interested in and the materials you’ll need to have ready to apply and interview.

See What’s Out There

You may have a few companies in mind that you’d like to work for, but you’ll want to make sure to do good research so that you know what they’re looking for in their interns. First of all, you might find your ideal company, but the specific types of internships they’re offering might not fit what you want at all. Second, if you do find an internship that interests you, you’ll do much better during the interview process if you know what they want.

College students have plenty of resources when it comes to finding the right internships. Start out by heading to your campus career center. Most colleges and universities have these centers where local businesses can put out the call for skilled interns. Many career centers will also offer students a time to sit down with an advisor and work on building a resume and figuring out these beginning stages of their career paths.

Prepare to Apply and Interview

As you’re preparing to apply and interview for internships, you’ll want to make sure you have a well-formed resume and a basic cover letter template that can be adjusted for different companies. Your resume can also be changed to highlight your particular skills suited for different opportunities, so make sure you’re paying attention to the details of each option.

Make a list of everything you’ll need to apply for a job and then to interview. You’ll want to include important items like a resume, cover letter, references, portfolio (especially if applying for a creative position), and a power outfit that will make you look more professional at the interview. Coming to an interview prepared and looking professional is an easy way to set yourself apart from the competition.

The right summer internship can not only give you a great summer break, but it can also start your future off on the right track. Follow these tips to land a great opportunity.

Fall is the most popular time of year to start college, and for good reason. Students have more courses to choose from at the beginning of the year. They can also apply for assistantships and internships sooner than spring applicants. Not everyone, however, is able to start school in September. For some students, it makes more sense to apply for the spring semester. Which term is best for you? Will you miss out on anything if you start college a semester late? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for each option.

Course Availability

More students start college in the fall, and that means more courses are available. Some of these courses are prerequisites to those that begin in the spring. Others start in the fall and run straight through the next term. Fall applicants don’t need to deal with this issue, but spring applicants do.

Depending on the school and the program, certain courses may not offer open enrollment for the second semester. Make sure to do your research before sending out applications. Reach out to the schools and find out what your options are. Keep in mind that there are also ways to get course credits ahead of time.

Flexibility

The main advantage of spring admission is its flexibility. If you can’t start college right away but don’t want to wait a year, spring makes for a good compromise. Spring applicants can spend the fall working, traveling, recovering from health issues, or doing whatever else they need to do. Plus, international students may want more time to practice their English-speaking skills before moving to the U.S.

Assistantships

Fall applicants have the advantage when it comes to assistantships. To qualify for a teaching assistant (TA) position for a class, applicants must have completed the course with a high grade. First year students can usually apply for TA positions during the second semester. Because spring applicants haven’t completed any courses yet, they’ll have to wait for the next hiring blitz.

A Second Chance

Colleges get so many applications that it’s impossible to start everyone right away. For this reason, students who apply for the fall semester are sometimes accepted for the spring semester instead. This situation is hardly ideal. However, if it happens with you, and the school you’ve applied for is your top choice, you may prefer to wait the extra four months. Check what the college offers for spring admits, such as a spring orientation program. You can still have a great first year even if you’re starting late.

Off-Campus Internships

If your heart is set on getting an internship, you’re better off applying for the fall semester. Students in the U.S. must complete at least nine months of college before applying for off-campus internships. This means that spring applicants can’t apply for a summer internship until their second year of college. However, that doesn’t mean your first summer has to be futile. You can still make your summer break productive, and that internship can wait until next year.

The best time for you to start college depends on your personal circumstances. Fall offers the most advantages, but spring is a great choice for those who need a little more time to adjust to college life.

Writing an essay is nobody’s idea of a good time, and it’s pretty much impossible to avoid in college. This task can seem especially daunting for first-year students who now have to face more stringent standards than they’re used to. Thankfully, writing essays — and writing them well — gets easier with practice. Here are four tips to help you kick butt on that upcoming term paper.

Keep Your Outline Flexible

Whether you choose to draw a mind map or stick to a more linear type of outline, keeping your plan flexible is key. Leave more space on the page than you think you need for each section. Your outline will start out fairly basic and become more detailed when you research your topic. You should be able to easily add facts as you find them or cross out notes that no longer seem relevant.

Does all your supporting evidence work against your thesis instead of with it? Don’t be afraid to modify things! The planning stage is all about finding the best ideas and making sure they fit together well. When you have a strong argument from the start, the writing stage will be that much simpler.

Write the Body First

Although you can write your essay in whatever order you choose, many students prefer to write the body first. The body is the portion of the essay with all the quotations, statistics, and any other facts or arguments. It’s also the portion that undergoes the most revision. Because the introduction and conclusion are based on the body, any changes to it will force you to adapt the rest of your paper. Try writing the introduction and conclusion last to save yourself some time.

Cut Out Fluff

Be ruthless with your editing, and remove anything that doesn’t add value. Each point should relate directly to your main argument. It can be easy to lose focus and go on tangents or add anecdotes, so watch out for them. Maybe you couldn’t resist mentioning that “Hamlet” has been translated into Klingon. It’s a cool fact, but your English essay probably isn’t the best place for it.

Ideally, you should take a 24-hour study break after you’ve written the rough draft. You’ll be able to catch mistakes more easily when you read your paper with fresh eyes.

Follow the Writing Guidelines

Depending on which course you’re taking, you’ll have to follow the style guidelines. APA style and MLA style are commonly used, but certain courses may use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Basically, these rules tell you how to properly format quotations, citations, page numbers, and more. Check your course syllabus to find out which style guide you should use, and make sure to follow it. It would really suck to lose marks just because your margins aren’t the right size.

Incorporate these tips the next time you write an essay, and see if they help improve your grade. If you still need more help, make sure to check out your on-campus academic resources.

4 Best Free Apps for College Students

There’s an app for everything these days, including how to survive your college years. Best of all, some of the most useful Android and iOS apps won’t cost you a cent. If you’re looking for tools to help navigate campus life, you don’t need to waste valuable study time trawling through the app store. We’ve got you covered with this handy guide to the best free apps for college students.

Brainscape: Supercharge Your Studies With Flashcards

Studies show flashcards are the most effective study tool for motivated learners. They engage active recall, facilitate confidence-based repetition, and make us reflect on the information we know and what we could use more practice on. They also allow us to separate the cards containing details we recognize with those we don’t for a more focused study experience.

Brainscape has taken this approach into the digital age. This clever app lets you create your own virtual flashcards or study with premade cards about popular college subjects. Tracking and collaboration features within the app also help you make the most of your study session.

Todoist: Organize Your Daily Activities

Organizing your class schedule, assignments, and social life is challenging. Todoist simplifies the process, acting as the ultimate to-do list and calendar. Schedule appointments and deadlines, create tasks and subtasks, and share your information with friends and project partners so you’re all on the same page.

While there is a paid premium version, the free app has sufficient features for most college students. Plus, Todoist integrates with desktop and browser extension versions so you can easily switch between your smartphone, tablet, and PC.

Mint: Manage Your Money Better

Managing money is another area where many college students struggle. Fortunately, Mint helps you expertly transition to life away from the Bank of Mom and Dad. This free finance app securely links to your bank accounts and credit cards so you can see exactly how much you’re spending and on what.

Review your transaction history to help you identify areas you can cut back on. Create budgets for different types of spending to make sure you don’t overindulge on your weaknesses. Establish credit card spending limits so you’ll never charge more than you can pay back. This money app does it all.

Circle of 6: Safeguard Your Social Life

The parties and new relationships are some of the best parts of the college experience. However, meeting so many new people carries an element of risk. With Circle of 6, you can enjoy the college social scene with extra peace of mind.

Name six safety contacts and you’re good to go. If you ever feel unsafe, click once to text your contacts for help. You can also transmit your location or send an SMS asking your friends to phone you, providing a convenient excuse to leave an uncomfortable situation. Plus, the app makes it easy to reach out if you simply need a friendly ear. Helpful links and hotlines for managing mental health, relationships, and sexuality also add value.

Whether you’re hitting the books or enjoying your downtime, these great apps will help make your college experience much easier.

Studying efficiently is difficult even at the best of times. However, winter weather can especially kill productivity. Christmas celebrations mess with our regular routines, and finding our way back can be tough. But college students can’t afford extended couch sessions binging Netflix favorites. Instead, try the following tips to stay focused during the dreary winter months.

Study in a Well-Lit Area

We see less daylight during winter than summer. Even when the sun’s out, days tend to be a bit grayer and gloomier. Sunlight sends signals to your brain that wake you up. On the flip side, during the winter when sunlight appears limited, you’ll usually feel more sluggish. No wonder staying focused during the cold season is so challenging!

You can reenergize your brain by studying in well-lit spaces. Swap those late-night study sessions for daytime ones. If your dorm room doesn’t have a window, take your study sessions to a brightly lit cafe, library, or outdoors. Even some good desk lamps for your dorm will make a difference.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Studies show the average adult gains 3 pounds over the festive holidays. Healthy eating and exercise typically go out the window around Thanksgiving, and it can be hard to stop once you’ve started making bad choices. However, finding the willpower to keep healthy habits most of the time will help you focus. No one is suggesting you miss out on the pumpkin pie, but fall off the wagon completely and you’ll feel too fatigued to study.

A hearty soup can be just as comforting as fried foods and much more nourishing for your body. While winter weather isn’t inviting, going out for a run or hitting the gym fires up your brain, preparing it for focused study. Keep up your regular healthy routine to maintain the same concentration in winter as you have during warmer weather.

Sip Tea While Studying

Winter is the ideal time for indulging in a beautiful brew. Make sipping tea part of your study regime to retain focus. The tea helps your brain concentrate, stay alert, and recall facts in the short and long term. However, the more you use caffeine, the more accustomed to it the brain gets and the smaller the impact. Moderation is key.

Did you know that tea has only a small amount of caffeine? You’ll find between 25 and 48 mg in an 8-ounce cup of black tea and between 25 and 29 mg in green tea. This compares to the 95 to 165 mg found in an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee. So do drink up during the winter months!

Keep Warm the Right Way

Staying focused is impossible when you’re cold. However, staying warm the right way is crucial. Fan and bar heaters might make you feel toasty, but they can also dehydrate you and leave you feeling tired. Instead, study in a space with central heating or use what’s around you to get warm. Layer up your clothes to stay comfortably cozy. Wrap a blanket around yourself if you’re still feeling frozen.

Don’t let your focus dip when the mercury does. These tips will keep your focus strong during those difficult winter months.

After getting a much-deserved break from studying, it’s time to get back into your school routine. If you’re like many college students, you’re likely not thrilled about your upcoming assignments, exams, and other responsibilities. However, the new semester may also bring new friendships and exciting experiences. Keep that positive note in mind and follow these tips for rejoining college life.

Get Your Sleep Cycle Back on Track

Did you sleep in later than usual during the holidays? Do you now have early morning classes to deal with? Going to bed sooner isn’t as easy as staying up later, but you can definitely change your sleep routine over time. The trick is to do it gradually.

Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every two to three days. If you have trouble falling asleep, try dimming or turning off the lights — including light from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone screen — before going to bed. Also, don’t sleep in too late and try not to nap during the day. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. Waking up earlier is rough at first, but it gets easier with time.

Unpack Your Personal Belongings

If you haven’t done so already, unpack your suitcase and anything else you brought back from home. Leaving it out keeps your mind stuck in holiday mode. Do you have winter-themed decorations in your apartment or dorm room? Take those down, too. You’ll be able to study better if you focus on the present.

Get Familiar With Your New Schedule

Make sure to check your class schedule at least a few days before the new semester starts. Nobody wants to show up on Wednesday only to realize class was actually on Tuesday. It’s also a good idea to review the syllabus for each class so you’ll know what textbooks you need and when. Buying them before classes start will save you time and hassle later. You may also want to check the dates for assignments and exams so you know what sort of workload to expect.

Make Needed Changes

Now is also a great time to review your past semester. Did you have trouble handing in papers on time? Did you take on too many shifts at your part-time job? Maybe an extracurricular activity took up more time than you expected. Ask yourself if you can benefit from a different routine. Then, make whatever adjustments you need, whether that’s penciling in more study time, asking for fewer shifts, or learning how to get more organized.

Have Something to Look Forward To

If you have nothing to look forward to besides long study sessions, that makes for a grim semester. Instead, make time for something you enjoy. Schedule a night out with the friends you made last semester, join a club, or sign up for a fitness class. Take up a new hobby or restart an old one. You’ll readjust to college life more easily if you have something fun planned out.

Do you need help settling into a new semester? Try at least one of these tips and see if it helps you get back on track.

A New Year is here, and that means a new semester and exams and all that fun stuff. It’s a good idea to establish a study routine right off the bat. Establishing a study routine is important, but if you do the same thing day in and day out, you’ll soon find yourself in a rut. Once there, it’s much harder to stay focused and get results. Pull yourself out of that rut and shake things up with these unconventional study tips.

Study While Working Out

Aerobic exercise fires up the hippocampus, your brain’s learning and memory nerve center. Scheduling gym sessions around your study schedule can be beneficial, but why not work your brain and body at the same time?

German researchers found that foreign language students who studied while walking or cycling retained more. And there’s nothing suggesting it only works for languages. Try listening to an educational audiobook while you’re riding your bike or reading study notes while you’re on the treadmill. Just don’t push yourself too hard. Intense workouts can elevate stress levels and impair your memory.

Go Somewhere Different

We’re all creatures of habit. Chances are you always study in the same place. Perhaps it’s the same corner of the library or at your desk in your dorm. Over time, spending time in the same study space can become so tedious that you lose interest. When you feel your focus fading, crack open your books somewhere else. You’ll get the best results in reasonably quiet and distraction-free study spaces. Cafes, empty classrooms, and parks are all perfect places. Many co-working offices also welcome students.

If you really want to mix things up, try studying in the branches of a tree or the top of a mountain. You’ll certainly get a new perspective!

Become an Early Bird

Most college students claim they can’t function early in the morning. But have you ever really tested this theory? Rather than cramming for exams until the wee hours, switch up your study habits. Get up early and hit the books first thing. By early, we mean early. You’ll want to rise before everyone else to enjoy the calm, distraction-free stillness of the morning.

Before you shoot down the idea because you think it means missing those late-night parties, consider this. Studies show people are more productive and alert if they split their sleep up. Waking early for study, then napping before class, could actually help you function!

Set Better Goals

How much do you actually accomplish during your study sessions? If you aren’t studying productively, goal setting can help you turn things around. Good goals keep you accountable. Planning a two-hour study session might sound good in theory, but it’s useless if you spend that time rearranging pens and sending text messages. Better goals would be completing a practice math exam or writing an essay. You’ll probably study more efficiently if you know your study session won’t end until you complete your goal.

We all learn differently, so some study strategies will help you retain knowledge more effectively than others. Try these unconventional strategies, see what works best for you, and add your favorites to your regular study plan. They might just help you ace your next exam!

As the new semester approaches, it’s tempting to kick back and relax. If you can’t rest now without deadlines looming, when can you? However, some smart preparation now can help you get organized for your return to school.

Chat With Your Adviser

Your adviser is a valuable resource as the new semester approaches. He or she can confirm whether the electives you’re interested in are a good fit for your schedule and goals and also tell what you can expect from different courses. Your adviser can also confirm dates for registration, drop dates, and other important dates to help you stay organized.

It’s much easier to see your adviser before the semester begins, as most students are busy enjoying their vacation. Once school returns, you’ll find appointment spaces fill quickly. Don’t risk missing out; arrange an appointment with your adviser now to learn everything you need to organize your school schedule.

Buy a Planner and Start Using It

A planner is a great way to keep organized. Go old school here. Physically writing things down helps you commit them to memory much better than typing does. Find a planner you really love and you’ll be more likely to use it.

There’s no time like the present to start using your planner. Fill in as much as you can before the semester starts, like your class schedule, due dates, and any upcoming appointments. The earlier you start using your planner, the more likely it is the habit will stick.

Get Your Textbooks

A new semester typically means new textbooks. If you wait until the semester begins, you’ll probably pay too much. Get a jump on your competition and you could find great deals on used textbooks. You’ll also have time to look through them before the semester begins. Having an idea of the coursework ahead will help you approach your semester with confidence. Campus Books is a great resource for you to use to find the lowest prices on new, used and rental books. Try to get the book assignments from your professor before classes start, so you can buy them early and typically get a lower price.


Take Stock of School Supplies

Look over your school supplies and buy anything you’ll need, such as blank workbooks and stationery. Don’t forget the sticky notes and highlighters! You might be able to repurpose some stuff from last semester, but you’ll probably have some gaps. Filling them now will make sure you have everything you need once you’re back in the classroom.

Clean Up Your Dorm

When you’re hard at work, clutter tends to build up. Your semester break is the perfect time to clean your space, so you can start the new term fresh. Clearing away the clutter will help you operate more efficiently, as you’ll know where everything is. You’ll also feel less stressed and fatigued in your newly cleaned, organized space. The last thing you need starting a new semester is another thing stressing you out! Clean up your dorm and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel and work when school returns.

Recharging your batteries over the break is important, but don’t forget to prepare for the coming semester. The effort you put in before the semester can help you be organized when you return to school.

Exam season can test the nerves of even the coolest, calmest students. Stress levels soar, anxiety is common, and most students feel perpetually exhausted. So how can you handle this emotional time of year? Try these super exam time strategies!

Make a Plan

Getting through exam season with good grades and minimal stress rarely happens by accident. Creating a clear plan increases your chance of success. The more specific your plan, the better. Knowing what you’re doing helps you feel more in control.

Mark out your exam schedule first. Double-check dates and times. Discuss any conflicts with your professors as soon as possible. Use your exam schedule to plan your study regime. Allow extra time for your weakest subjects.

Stick With Healthy Habits

Healthy habits are easily broken during exam season. Late-night cram sessions seem to make more sense than sleeping. And how would you get through them without junk food, sodas, and sugary snacks? You reason you’ll take better care of yourself once exam season’s over, but by then it will be too late.

Your brain can’t function well without good food and sleep. Eating regular meals packed with vitamins and minerals improves memory, alertness, and focus. Your brain can’t form or maintain the pathways it needs to learn and make memories when it’s deprived of sleep. Sleep-deprived people also can’t concentrate or respond as quickly as well-rested people. Sleep seven to nine hours each night for the best results.

Proper hydration is also important for staving off headaches and staying alert. Coffee is every student’s secret exam weapon, but it’s dehydrating, like other caffeinated beverages. Alternating your cups of Joe with water keeps you hydrated.

Take Time Out

You’ve probably heard from parents and teachers that studying should be your top priority during exam season. While studying certainly matters, it shouldn’t occupy your every waking moment. If you become too obsessed with studying, your stress level could impair your memory.

A little stress is an effective motivator, but keep it in check. When you feel overwhelmed, take time out to regain some balance. Do something that calms you down, such as practicing yoga, coloring, or reading a novel. As little as 30 minutes of “me time” makes a massive difference.

Talk About It

Bottling your emotions can trigger depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Reduce the risks by talking about exam time and your emotions with trusted family and friends.

Friends can be good sounding boards as they’re in the same boat. As you discuss your shared experiences, you’ll feel less alone. You might even be able to share some study tips. A little venting is fine, but watch out for conversations that fuel your stress. If chatting makes you feel more worried about your preparation about the exams ahead, it’s not productive.

Older siblings who’ve graduated from college, student counselors, teachers, and understanding parents may also help support you through your exams. Open up and you might be surprised who’s there for you.

Getting through exam season might seem impossible, but don’t lose hope. These proven strategies should help you survive this trying time relatively unscathed!