A Beginner’s Guide to Library Research

Picture this: It’s 2 am, and you’re on your fifth cup of coffee (or was it the sixth?). You’re crouched at a table in some dark corner of the library surrounded by fifteen open books. Equally as many tabs are open on your laptop, and the clock seems to tick in time with the blinking cursor in the document of your barely begun 10-page paper that’s due in seven hours.

Sound familiar? I know I’ve been there. I hope you haven’t, but I bet you’ve at least been in a similar situation. There are a lot of things that can explain how you got to this point, including procrastination, poor organization, and a messy schedule.

But I think, very often, the problem is also a lack of research skills. I know that my formal training in the actual mechanics of library research was limited to a couple 1-hour sessions my freshman year. Beyond that, I just had to figure most of it out through trial and error. Read More…

Cultivate Creativity to Study Better and Dominate Assignments

What comes to mind when you hear the word “creativity”? A painter toiling away at a canvas into the wee hours of the morning? A composer spending hours on a new piece until it’s perfect? Or maybe an actor bringing an audience to tears with the right word said at just the right time?

What about that final project you have due for your Intro to Anthropology class? I don’t know about you, but if you’d asked me a couple years ago if creativity had anything to do with course work, I probably would have said something like,

“Well, sure, but only if you have a creative major like art, creative writing, music, drama, or dance.”

What I’ve realized lately, however, is that my assumptions were all wrong. Creativity absolutely has a place in your studies, no matter what your major is. To excel at college-level work, you have to think creatively.

That’s why in today’s post I’m going to break down what exactly creativity is, how you can practice it, and how you can apply it to your studies.

Don’t worry: berets are optional.
Read More…

How to Write a Winning College Application Essay

Ah, college application essays – the necessary evil of college-bound high school seniors everywhere. If you’ve just finished your junior year of high school, then these may very well be in your near future.

Since Thomas and Martin have been doing a series of podcast episodes about how to get into college, I thought it would be appropriate to write up an article about how to write a college application essay – one that stands out and that makes a great impression.

Maybe you’re thinking,

“Crap, how do I even write this kind of essay?”

Don’t worry. I was in your same position four years ago, and I learned a lot through both my own college application process and through my subsequent years as an English major who wields commas like shurikens.

Today I’ll share some of that knowledge and teach you how you can craft an essay that really bolsters your overall application.
Read More…

How to Prepare for Exams Like A Pro: The Exam Prep Cycle

This is another excellent guest article from my good friend Tom Miller. Tom runs WTF Professor and creates some of the most in-depth, well-researched content on studying and learning I’ve ever seen.

If you’ve got an exam coming up, I think you’ll find this post in particular to be very helpful. After you’ve read it though, I’d highly recommend checking out Tom’s other work as well.

Take it away, other Tom!

Let me know if this sounds familiar…

You’re a few weeks into your shiny new semester and the buzz and excitement of starting fresh is starting to ebb away. The initial days of chillin’ out, going to class, learning for the sake of learning, and then hanging out with friends afterwards is over, and the workload is starting to pile up…

Maybe you’ve had a few homework sets, quizzes, and late nights trying to get project assignments done. It’s starting to feel like work. All in all though, nothing too horrible. Not as fun as before, but still manageable.

And then you get to class and hear it… Read More…

Automate Your Learning and Build a Bulletproof Study System: The Consolidation Method

Hey all! This week I’m happy to bring you another excellent guest post from my friend Tom Miller. You can find more of his unconventional study methods at his blog WTF Professor.

I’m embarrassed.

And ashamed.

But I guess it’s time for the world to finally see who I truly was back in college…

I was… a NOTES NERD!

Yes, one of those extreme students who made sure to always carry at least 4 colors of pen, a straight edge, and a clean, clearly-labeled notebook.

Someone who thought,

“If I just make the most beautiful notes in the world, that I could always refer back to, all would be well…”

My delusional thought pattern went something like this… Read More…

6 Writing Tips To Make Your Papers 300% Better

Hey there guys! This week’s article is a guest post by Ransom Patterson

Ransom is a sophomore at the College of Wooster majoring in English and has been an incredibly active CIG reader – leaving well thought-out comments on articles, listening to the podcast, submitting listener tips and questions for Q&A episodes, and more – all things that I’ve been incredibly happy and grateful to see.

Not only that, but Ransom has also taken the time to create his own website, portfolio, and blog using the personal website guide – and he did it when he was a freshman! I can safely say that Ransom’s got his sh*t together. 

On his blog, Ransom’s been writing about grammar usage and other English tips – things that are definitely useful to students. Based on this work, I’m happy to bring you a guest post from him – enjoy his writing tips, and start crafting kick-ass papers!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but here at my school midterms are right around the corner.

For lots of you I’m sure that means a bunch of papers will soon be due. With that in mind, here are six tips to help your writing stand apart (note that 300% is merely an estimate of your improvement. YMMV). Read More…

How To Learn More Outside Of Class Than You Ever Could Inside It

I’m going to give you a list of seemingly random things, and I want to you try and guess how they’re related. Ready? Here we go:

  1. Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) is a feature in iOS 5 that allows the compiler to do memory management automatically, so you don’t have to.
  2. Out of all high school students that graduate in the bottom 40 percent of their class, 76 percent will not will not have a college degree within eight years.
  3. しんぶんでしたか? いいえ、しんぶんじゃりません。いちごでした。

Give up? I know, I know – these things seem totally random. And to you, they absolutely are. There’s nothing that concretely binds them. So what’s the relation?

Simple – they’re all things I learned yesterday.

And here’s another thing: I didn’t learn any of this stuff in a classroom (even though I’m a college student). That’s right – I learned it all on my own. And every single day of the (work)week, I learn more and more new things out of class. In fact, this semester I’m:

  • Learning Japanese
  • Building an iPhone app from scratch
  • Reading at least one book per month

This is on top of my regular class load and the work I do to run College Info Geek (which is considerable). And guess what? You can do this as well.

In this post, I’m going to show you the techniques I use to educate myself without any sort of formal structure, classrooms, professors, or tuition fees. Read More…

The Mutant Guide To Studying For Finals

Do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning?

Well, unless you’re taking a class on biology or meteorology this semester, you shouldn’t care right now. You’ve got bigger things to worry about at the moment.

That’s right! My fellow students, the real enemy is out there – beyond the confines of your dorm rooms, your apartment walls, your fraternity living rooms. They congregate on hard drives, printer trays, and secret folders far from our eyes… for now. Soon, though, we must all come to face this great enemy: our finals.

To face these abominations and have any chance of victory, you’re going to need preparation – and it’s up to me to use all the out-of-place movie quotes, shaky analogies, and bulleted lists I can muster to give you that very preparation. So sit back, grab a beer (just one), and get ready to evolve your studying habits. This is the mutant guide to hitting your finals harder than the Juggernaut. Read More…

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