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learning

Student Life

7 Tips to Create the Perfect Study Environment

November 17, 2021

Many essential factors, both good and bad, contribute to a person’s academic success. However, looking at all the possible things that could go wrong won’t do you any good. You will create doubts and demotivate yourself.

Instead of thinking about things that could go wrong, be proactive in setting yourself up for success. The best way anyone can do this is to create an environment where they thrive as learners without any distractions.

People often overlook their study environment, but it can make a huge difference in how well you perform.

Stay organized

Being organized is crucial when it comes to studying. We’re not talking about the learning process itself. Sometimes it’s random, and you can learn with different techniques.

Start with cleaning up the clutter. Set the time when you will start learning and make sure that you don’t have any other obligations. Ensure you won’t be bothered by using headphones if you’re studying in a library or public place, or letting your roommates know not to disturb you.

Make your study environment optimal and organized. If you’re using a computer, consider getting different types of power cords that can help you hide all the wires and make your work area neat. Keep all your learning materials in a single place, and be prepared to start learning at any time.

Find a suitable study location

People study in all kinds of different places. No matter where you are studying, you need to feel comfortable without distractions. Consider studying in your bedroom, office, the library, a coffee shop, or a co-working space.

Some people can also learn in shared learning spaces, so think about these options as well. Once you find a spot you like, stick with it and create your routine around it. And remember, switching up your learning location can also be a good thing from time to time.

Keep your phone away

One of the biggest distractions today is the smartphone. Nearly everyone is used to being on their phones at any given moment during the day. We have a habit of looking at phones while drinking coffee, in bed, on the toilet, and so on.

It’s a very negative habit when it comes to studying. Reaching for your smartphone can not only disrupt your current learning process, but it will also likely occupy your mind with irrelevant information. Turn your phone to silent mode and if you have to, move it into another room. If you get notifications on your laptop or smart watch, remember to mute those as well!

Try music

There are many studies that explore the effects of music on our brains. Music can help us in so many different ways, and some people can even learn better with music. They use it as a tool to keep things fun and go through their lessons more easily.

Let’s face it when you’re doing something while having fun – it’s a lot easier. Many people say that music helps them, but there is also research that confirms the benefits of music for studying. Classical or jazz music can be nice to listen to when you’re in a good study zone. If you could handle lyrics and changing beats while you’re studying, try another genre!

Make it comfortable

Taking care of practical things like noise, distractions, and clutter is essential. However, the visual experience of your study environment is also significant. Decorating your learning space with pictures, flowers, lighting, furniture, and comfy pillows can make learning easier.

At the same time, make sure to get a comfortable chair and desk so you feel more inclined to use it. Studying from your bed or couch may sound nice at first, but it might be a little too comfortable and make you sleepy.

Avoid spending time in that space when you’re not studying

When you’re spending too much time in one room, you can start to feel drained, even when you’re not studying. Everyone needs a change of scenery, especially when they’ve been studying for several hours. If you want to feel comfortable in your environment, get out of it whenever you can.

Even while you’re studying, make sure to get up, stretch, and walk to your other room or even go outside. Getting the blood flowing even for a few minutes every 30 to 90 minutes can do a lot of good.

Get inspired

What are your goals, and what motivates you to study? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Once you’ve figured that out, make sure to add posters, photos, desktop backgrounds, quotes, or anything else that inspires you to your study room. When you’re lacking drive or motivation, you can look at these inspirations in your study room and move forward.

With these seven tips, you can easily create a more enjoyable work environment where your knowledge will grow. However, don’t make it too comfortable so that you fall asleep while studying – it’s still a learning environment, not a gaming room.

BIO: Rebecca Grey is a passionate writer & guest blogger. She loves writing and sharing her knowledge mostly in the technology industry.

Other Student Life

10 Ways for Students to Celebrate Black History Month

February 14, 2021

February is Black History Month which is a time to reflect on the contributions of Black people in the U.S.

1. Educate Yourself

It’s always good to learn more and educate yourself on topics of Black History and issues that the Black community faces. You can find resources through your school’s library or also can find valuable content on YouTube or elsewhere online, such as David Ikard’s TEDx Talk The Dangers of Whitewashing Black History.

2. Donate to Black Non-Profits

Donating what you can to a non-profit that supports Black individuals is a great way to celebrate this month. Check out charitynavigator.org for a list of reputable non-profits that you can donate to this month.

3. Support Black-Owned Businesses

Check out these resources for locating black-owned businesses near you! It’s also valuable to note that instead of making a one-time purchase, make an effort to consistently support these businesses throughout the year.

4. Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to stay entertained and hear different perspectives throughout your day. These podcasts with Black hosts focus on a variety of topics, including 1619 and Code Switch.

5. Diversify Your Social Media Feed

Social media can take up a lot of your day. It’s easy to endlessly scroll but it’s also important to notice who you’re scrolling through. If you’re looking to diversify your feed and hear from Black creators, follow accounts like @ohhappydani on Instagram and @aliciagarza on Twitter.

6. Read a Book

Here are some books from Black authors that you can read this month. You can also team up with your friends and read it together and talk about it after. Don’t know where to start? Check out this list that includes Cicely Tyson’s Just As I Am and The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.

7. Watch a Film

Make it a movie night and pick a documentary or film that highlights Black history. Check out this list of must-watch documentaries from PBS, including Freedom Riders and Slavery by Another Name.

8. Support Black Artists

If you are looking to spice up your living space or for a unique gift, check out some of these Black-owned Etsy shops.

9. Sign Up For a Virtual Event

Check out an event that your school is holding in honor of Black History Month, even if it’s being held virtually due to the pandemic. It’s always a good idea to learn more through your campus resources and to participate in dialogue with others.

10. Stand By and Support Black Students on Campus

Find ways to support your school’s Black Student Union throughout the school year and be sure to stand by Black students amidst instances of hate that are occurring on college campuses.

Make sure to continue to uplift Black voices throughout the year, educate yourself and reflect.

Career Other

The World is My Classroom: Strategies for Online Learning Success

February 11, 2020

Learning never ends. It may be an old saying, but it’s one that’s taking on new resonance in today’s technological age. We now have more information at our fingertips than ever before in human history. Whether you are 20, 40, 60, or older, if you want to keep up and remain professionally relevant and cognitively sharp, you have to continually refine your existing skills and work to develop new ones.

That may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The great news is that today’s technology makes it easier than ever to advance your education or pursue new professional certifications no matter where you are or how busy you may be. There are online courses and academic programs, for example, at most every level, from basic skills to Ph.D. and Ed.D.

However, before you decide to enroll in an online course, it’s important to remember that e-learning is every bit as rigorous as a traditional, on-campus study. In fact, the time commitment may be even greater because you don’t have the benefit of attending a physical class to prove your participation. If you’re self-motivated and ready to commit, though, online courses can be the ideal solution, especially for busy working adults with families. However, to thrive in online courses, you need a bit of strategy.

Make It Work

If you’re considering taking online courses, there are a few study habits you need to embrace to get the most out of your learning experience and save yourself a lot of stress. Here are some highlights:

  • Get your tech in order: There is nothing worse than enrolling in an online course, only to find you don’t have the kind of equipment you need to use all functions of the online course effectively. While many online learning management systems (LMS) will enable you to access all course features from a cell phone or tablet, that’s not always the case, so make sure that your tech is compatible with your online course.
  • Check your access: You can’t very well be successful in an online course if you don’t have reliable internet access, so make sure you always have a Plan B, such as access to a local Wi-Fi hot spot should your internet go out. Many libraries, coffee shops, and fast-food restaurants provide free Wi-Fi but are careful about the security of the network. Have a reliable and efficient way to send and receive documents and other files without losing the formatting you need. Various kinds of PDF converters are available online to make sharing well-formatted documents a breeze.
  • Study every day: When you are taking an online course, it can be easy to put off until tomorrow what you need to be doing today. After all, you don’t have regular class meetings and your teacher’s appraising stare to keep you on schedule. In an online course, though, the work can mount up very, very quickly. To manage an online class without becoming overwhelmed, it’s better to study a bit every day than to try to cram it all in a once or twice week panicked study session.
  • Do NOT isolate: One of the most dispiriting and detrimental things an online student can do is isolate. It can be easy to feel lonely when you are taking online courses but remember you are NOT alone. There is an entire classroom full of students on the other side of the computer screen, not to mention your professor and advisors. Reach out to them early and often. That is why they’re there!

Learning should always be constant and consistent. So whether you are wanting to get a new degree, or simply trying to learn a new language through an online course; as long as you follow these tips from GradGuard, you will definitely be set up for success.

Other Student Life

6 Key Rules for Learning a Foreign Language

February 19, 2019

Learning a foreign language is no picnic, but nor is it impossible. You will have to work hard, but the result will be worth it. Like everything, learning another language has its rules that make the process easier. You just need to remember that it’s going to take time, and you can’t just dive right in. Learning a language doesn’t have to be complicated and frustrating all the time, so here are some major rules to help guide you.

  • Learn Pronunciation

Wrong pronunciation can change a word’s meaning, and that is why you need to learn it. A fantastic way to learn pronunciation is to listen to songs or talk shows in the target language. No one can teach you how to pronounce a word better than the native speakers themselves. If you are learning Spanish, try listening to how different words sound in Spanish.

  • Create Achievable Goals

Some people start learning a language and create too hard to achieve goals. For instance, setting a goal to learn a language in three months is unrealistic. A goal like this is too vague, and you cannot concentrate on what you have to do. If you set up a plan to become an intermediate learner at a specific time, then that will help to keep you motivated. Instead of aiming to be fluent in a language, just try to strike up a conversation with someone instead. Fluency comes automatically!

  • Read For Pleasure

Reading is beneficial generally as it broadens the mind and introduces you to rich vocabulary. Find literature written in the target language, and try reading it. You’ll probably have trouble at first, but you will slowly get used to it. Highlight the words that you don’t understand and then check their meanings. If you want, you can write the meanings in small footnotes on the pages so the next time you read it, you know instantly what the words mean, and slowly you will begin to remember them.

  • Take It Easy

When you start to learn a language in the most challenging way possible, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Taking the easy way will be your best bet and will help you learn certain habits. If you are learning grammar, try to find a simple way to achieve your goal, and you’ll be able to understand the language much quicker.

  • Learn Cognates

Have you ever heard a word in a foreign language and thought you know what it means because it sounds like something similar to a word in your native language? These words are cognates that originated in one language, and another language borrowed it, or the word had roots in another language. These words enable us to understand particular phrases and expressions when we hear them, even if we do not know the language. Learning them will give you an excellent start to knowing some words from the target language without memorizing anything.

  • Practice

Whether you’re a basketball star or giving a speech for the first time, you have to practice. The same goes for learning a new language. You cannot sit in a room teaching the vocabulary and grammar expecting to become an expert miraculously. You need to put yourself out there and start having a conversation in the target language to become good at it. This will give you enough confidence to communicate with the native speakers of the language, and you’ll learn a lot in the process.

Follow these fundamental rules, and language learning will become much easier for you! Don’t forget that GradGuard is here to help you with all your college tips and hacks!

Bio: Lara Smith has worked for Wall Street English for 20 years. After studying at Stanford University and subsequently doing a CELTA course, she began her career in teaching. She is obsessed with languages and currently writes blogs at https://www.mimicmethod.com/.