While public speaking can be uncomfortable or intimidating, it’s an essential skill, especially in college. Whether you have to speak in front of your class, at an academic conference, or at an important event, it’s always good to speak well. Here’s how:
1. Practice, practice, practice. And practice. Like wine, public speaking can be an acquired taste. In order to get used to the feeling of it, practice as much as you can. For example, if you have to give a presentation, practice in front of your mirror, or friends, or family. It might seem silly, but you’ll be glad you did once you’re not stumbling over your words in front of an actual crowd.
2. Find a pace that works. It’s natural to speed up your speech when you’re in front of an audience, which is why you should always tell yourself to slow down. Think about it: no one wants to listen to someone who’s talking too fast. At best it’s annoying. At worst it’s incomprehensible.
3. Learn from the best. You’re paying all that money to be at school, so take advantage of it. Since you already have to sit through class each day, why not try paying attention to how your professors give their lectures? Some professors are rock stars, and can make even the most boring material come to life, while others are as dull as a broken pencil. Either way, take note of what works and what doesn’t. Then imitate as necessary.
4. Make it a routine. If you want to do something well, then you have to do it every day. That’s how you fine-tune a craft. Practice by raising your hand in class to ask or answer questions. In other words: make use of the opportunity to get up and get talking in front of people.
5. Be honest about what you need to improve. Public speaking doesn’t have to be your thing, but it’s a skill you need. So ask for feedback whenever you have the chance. If you make mistakes during a speech or presentation, don’t sweat it. Just remember those mistakes and fix them next time.
If there’s one thing that all students want more of, it’s sleep. There are so many distractions on college campuses that it’s almost impossible to get consistent shuteye, but for your health (and also for your sanity) it’s important you do. In light of that, here are a few tips that may help you sleep better:
1. Get comfortable. It might seem like a lot of cash to dole out up front, but if you hook yourself up with a quality mattress pad an a couple of cozy pillows, every dime spent will be worth it. Remember: a comfortable night’s sleep is a good night’s sleep, and a good night’s sleep is priceless.
2. Ventilate. Dorms rooms can be a little stuffy or stale. To fix that problem, get yourself a portable fan to get the air moving. Besides, a little extra white noise probably won’t hurt either.
3. Avoid naps. If you want to make sure that you sleep better at night, then try not to sleep during the day. If you absolutely can’t function without napping, consider a twenty-minute power nap. Anything longer that may negatively affect your ability to fall asleep later.
4. Flex your muscles. Your creative ones, too. If you exercise during the day then your body will thank you when it’s time to hit the pillow. It’s also a good idea to exercise your mind. For example, try journaling a bit before sleep. Or even try reading something more academic.
5. Stay clean. Even if you’re not a super clean person, keeping a neat room isn’t a bad idea. Too much clutter will likely cause stress, meaning sleep won’t come as easy as you’d like.
6. Watch out for all-nighters. While it might be hard to avoid staying up late into the night-slash-early-morning writing a paper or studying for an exam, don’t make it a habit. Your body may become accustomed to staying up late. If that happens, you may find it hard to go to sleep at a reasonable hour when you actually need to.
7. Set patterns. Knowing when you’ll go to sleep and when you’ll wake up is one of the best (and medically proven) ways to stay rested. We know you can’t go to bed at the same time every day, but sticking as close to a schedule as you can will help zap some of your fatigue.
Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, has put together this nifty infographic for students who are wondering whether or not they qualify for federal student aid. The good news? Most students qualify. Check it out.
The cost of tuition is like an endless elevator that’s always going up. That’s why it pays to save on all your other college costs. Here’s how:
1. Compare student loans. Before you even step foot on campus, get the biggest bang for your buck by obtaining a loan that has affordable interest rates and favorable repayment options. But finding that perfect loan doesn’t have to be hard—just use our free and easy Student Loan Comparison Tool.
2. If you have a meal plan, use it. If you’re paying for a comprehensive meal plan, skip the off-campus restaurants. While delicious, neither fast food nor restaurant faire treats your wallet kindly.
3. Consider living off-campus. Fees pertaining to room and board are costly. If you want to save big, research off-campus housing or apartments opportunities nearby. Then ask around to find some roommates so you can split the rent and you’re on your way to saving hundreds.
4. Don’t drive a car. To avoid the temptation of spending cash on gas and parking tickets, leave your car at home. If you need to get around, use public transportation, school shuttles, or your feet.
5. Find a job on campus. Most college campuses have facilities such as post offices, snack bars, libraries, dining halls, art galleries, and department and administrative offices. Often, student employees compose a large part of the campus workforce. The best part? Getting work means getting paid.
6. Stick to your budget. There’s nothing wrong with going off-campus to enjoy a movie or a night out, but remember that moderation is key. Keep track of your spending money and self-enforce a monthly limit.
7. Use the library. The school library houses tons of free resources: books, movies, music, online databases, internet, study space, etc. Why buy a book, rent a movie, or pay for your own internet connection (or expensive cell phone data plan) when it’s available for free?
8. Brew your own coffee. Buying even one cup of coffee per day at Starbucks or even at a café on campus packs a financial punch that’s hard to recover from. You could easily be spending $100 a month without even knowing it. To save, invest in a coffee pot and brew your own.
9. Use student discounts. If you need to spend money on getting a haircut, or if you want to visit an off-campus resource (e.g. a museum), then show your student I.D. You might just score a discount.
10. Plan your week. Small expenses add up, so plan accordingly. For example, wait until you have a full load of dirty laundry before you feed the washing machine your quarters. Remember: every penny counts.
With graduation around the corner—isn’t that horrifying?—something called “the real world” is waiting. That’s right, college seniors, I’m looking at you. Have you applied to graduate school? Have you applied for jobs? Both? If so, then odds are you have no idea how to pick between them. And that’s okay. A little mystery in life is never a bad thing, but to help relieve your stress and potential stomach ulcers when faced with the decision of continuing your education or getting a job, consider the following:
1. What are the short-term and long-term benefits of each choice? If you think entering the workforce is your best bet, then by all means: go for it. On the other hand, if you think that in the long term you’ll be better off if you have a graduate degree, then, well, by all means: go for it. It’s a judgment call that only you can make. The important question you need to answer, though, is whether you want to stay in school for a reason or just because. If an advanced degree in your field leads to an increased income over your life, for example, it may well be worth it.
2. Can you manage more debt or do you need income? Practically speaking, you need to consider your wallet. You don’t want to be living in your parents’ basement for the rest of your life, do you? If you need to take on more loans in order to attend graduate school, then you might want to think twice about enrolling. It’s also important to remember, should graduate school prove to be the route you take, that many schools offer fellowships, tuition waivers, and stipends to graduate students. That’s why it’s important to apply to schools with adequate funding.
3. More schooling or work? Before deciding on which path to take, ask yourself some honest questions. Did you apply to grad school because you felt like you had to? Similarly, did you apply for a job for the same reason? Think of it this way: if you think grad school is for you, it might be, but only if you truly love school and have a reason for being there. Really, graduate work is an extension of college, except more focused and more advanced. If school is not for you, then grad school definitely isn’t either.
4. Both are possible. If you’re an impatient type, and if you want to have the best of both worlds, then make it happen. For instance, you can work a job and also attend a graduate school part-time, or else attend a school that has classes only at night so you can work during the day. True: your schedule will be packed, and sleep will be hard to find, but no one said the real world was easy, right?