A laptop is a college student’s best friend. It lets you stay in touch with friends and family, get your homework done on time, and enjoy an occasional funny cat video. But how can you keep your laptop and all the data on it safe?

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) enables you to use a remote server when you connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as those within the campus library or at your favorite coffee shop. That remote server will encrypt your data and make it next to impossible for hackers on your Wi-Fi network to get access to your data.

You can take advantage of several free and paid VPNs. Some of the best VPNs include:

  • Hotspot Shield
  • KeepSold VPN Unlimited
  • PureVPN

Beware of Shoulder Surfing

When you want to get away from your noisy roommate, you might head to the campus library, but it isn’t just the Wi-Fi network at the library that poses a risk. The person who casually walks behind you when you’re entering your password for your banking website could be trying to glean your info. This practice is known as shoulder surfing.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of shoulder surfing is to be aware of your surroundings. If you notice anyone around you who is paying more attention than they should, move to another table or avoid using websites that require you to enter private information.

Use Strong Passwords

All of your passwords should be difficult to guess. A strong password:

  • Uses both uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Contains numbers and special characters
  • Isn’t anything obvious like the name of your pet or your significant other
  • Has at least 12 characters

Strong passwords are sometimes difficult to remember, but you should resist the temptation to use the same password for everything. You can keep a list of your passwords in a secure location; you might use a password app or create a hard copy and keep it in a safe place.

Frequently change your passwords for sites that contain sensitive information, like your banking and credit-card sites.

Guard Against Theft

According to one estimate, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds.

To keep your laptop safe, register it with campus security. Many colleges will give you a sticker to put on your computer that will act as a theft deterrent. It will also help bring your laptop home if an honest person comes across it.

Also be sure to lock up your laptop. You can buy a cable lock for your laptop that will enable you to attach it to your table in the coffee shop when you have to step away to use the bathroom. Also, don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s alright to leave your laptop unattended in your car. If a thief even suspects that your car has valuable electronics in it, you could find yourself short one computer.

Keeping your data (and property) safe will save you time, money, and a lot of frustration. Use the above tips to protect your information from thieves.

According to the “dress well, test well” mantra, dressing up on exam day will help you perform better on your test. It might sound like wishful thinking, but recent studies show that there might be some truth to the idea. Here are a few reasons why dressing well might give you an advantage.

Clothing May Affect Confidence

While confidence alone isn’t enough to get you a good grade, you definitely won’t perform as well if you’re too nervous to think straight. You probably already know this from personal experience, but let’s take a look at the scientific study that backs this idea up.

While conducting a study on clothing and confidence, professor Karen Pine found that students wearing “Superman” shirts gave themselves a higher rating for likeability and physical strength compared to students wearing regular clothes. Pine also had women take a math test while wearing either a swimsuit or a sweater. The women wearing swimsuits performed worse than the other group.

These results suggest that what you wear is connected with confidence and test scores. While neither study proves that your outfit will get you a better test result, the outcome is certainly compelling.

Color Influences Mood

It’s not news that color can affect your mood. Businesses have used this knowledge to their advantage for years. Fast food restaurants use bright red and yellow decor to stimulate appetite, and hospitals are more likely to have soft blue or green walls to create a calm atmosphere. The question is: How can you use color psychology to your advantage?

Try using color to improve your energy. If you pulled an all-nighter, you may find that wearing orange helps to perk you up. If you’re feeling nervous, shades of blue may calm you down. Of course, not everyone reacts to colors the same way. For one person, red may feel energizing. For another, it could induce feelings of agitation or anger. The key is to wear colors that work for you.

Your Wardrobe Can Affect Cognition

There’s a relatively new term — enclothed cognition — which states that what we wear influences how we think. Maybe you’ve noticed that when you wear gym clothes, you’re more likely to work out because it puts you into the right frame of mind. Current research looks at other types of clothing to see if there’s a similar effect.

Professor Adam D. Galinsky conducted an experiment to see if lab coats influence attention span. He found that the participants who wore a white doctor’s coat showed better attention than participants wearing regular clothes or white painter’s coats. According to Galinksy, it’s the symbolism of clothing that really matters. Doctors are careful and serious, so when people put on a doctor’s coat, they try to fit that role.

Does this mean that dressing well can help you concentrate better during your exams? Maybe. So far, it looks like the clothes you wear affect your mood, confidence, and the way that you think. The next time you take a test, wear something comfortable and flattering and see if it makes a difference.