Making the Most of Semester Break

relax

The long awaited semester break is a time to relax, recharge, and catch up on some things that may have gotten away from you during the semester.  Whether you are on break for a month or a week, it’s important to make the most of whatever time you have.  For myself, I certainly need to recharge for next semester, but there are still plenty of items on my “to-do” list.  Here, I have organized some of the most important things semester break is for.

Relax

I don’t know about you guys, but I poured a lot of energy into this past semester.  Although it was a time of growth and learning, I know I have to plenty of recovering to do from all the energy I spent this semester.  No matter where you are at in life, sometimes you just need to take some time for YOU.  Here are my suggestions to relax over the break.

Coloring

Who doesn’t love coloring?  You can easily find printable coloring pages online, or you can get a coloring book full of pictures.  I am a real fan of adult coloring books, particularly these ones featuring verses of scripture.  Don’t forget to find your favorite package of markers or colored pencils.  I find coloring to be so relaxing, especially when I put on some good music!

Playing an instrument

Being on break, I’ve had more time to play my guitar.  Although I wouldn’t call myself very good by any means, it’s still something I like to do that relaxes me.  I you’re feeling up to it, this may be a great time to pick up a totally new musical skill.

TV or Movie Series

I bet I can count the number of movies I watched this semester on one hand.  Since being home I’ve watched the entire Harry Potter series with my family and now we are working on  The Lord of the Rings series (extended editions, of course!)  I didn’t have Netflix all semester, but in the last couple weeks of school, I caved in.  If you haven’t watched The Crown yet, I would 10/10 highly recommend!

Read!

You guys, what I wouldn’t give for a quality novel!  If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments!  Nevertheless, I plan to read a couple plays over break.  The first one on my list is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  The search for monologue material never ends!

Recharge

As much as I love lying around the house all day, I know I have to do a couple things to keep myself sharp for the next semester.  Don’t let this semester sneak up on you!  Take a few minutes to make a mental list of what would be most beneficial for you to recharge during break.

See some friends

Even though I may have a tendency to be a shut-in at times, I still think it’s important to see some familiar faces.  Especially if you are back in your hometown, try to get together with some old friends.  Coffee dates are fine, or maybe you and your friends would like to collaborate on a photoshoot.  An update to my headshots is the perfect opportunity to get together with friends.

Remember your goals

Along with all the exhaustion, I experienced this semester, I seemed to get a little off track with the overarching goals I’ve set in place.  Not so much my academic/performance goals, but the goals for my blog have suffered big time.  The time and distance away from school has helped me remember why I started this blog in the first place.  What are some goals you would like to get back to?

Take care of yourself

As tempting as Christmas dinner is, try not to eat it all winter break.  You will feel a lot better if you keep your health in mind over break (especially if you are living in the dorms, enjoy this break from cafeteria food!)  Maybe go on a run or take a hike with some friends, weather permitting.  I know I need to do a fair amount of stretching to stay in shape for when I get back into my dance classes this semester.  Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!

Get Ahead

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things about semester break is that it gives students a chance to catch up and even get ahead in some details.  Amidst the hustle of class schedules, there are those things on everybody’s to-do list that just seem to never get done.

Get organized

Maybe, you’re like me, and you find organizing to be relaxing.  Organize your room, your schedule, your school supplies, or perhaps your blog.  Tie up some loose ends and get a clearer perspective on your to-do list.

Get ready for school

I don’t have a very good track record with preparing for a semester before it actually starts, but this time around I am determined to get ahead.  It helps that I will likely be needing only two textbooks this semester!  This way, I have plenty of time to look for less expensive alternatives than just going to the school bookstore.  Have you applied for FAFSA yet?  FAFSA was actually available on October 1st, but I’m just getting around to it now… Nobody’s perfect.

So there you have it!  Just a couple things to focus on during this semester break.  Don’t forget to pet a lot of cats.  I hope you all get to relax and recover enough to have an amazing semester.  Let me know some of your favorite things to do over winter break!




Tips to Write the Perfect Paper

paper

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Analyze.AcademicHelp.net.  All content and opinions are my own.  Thank you!

It seems like no matter what your major is, your professors always find some way to utilize essay writing in their curriculum.  With finals just around the corner, it’s a good idea to brush up on the essential elements to writing a good paper.  Whether you feel like your writing skills are up to par, or you know you need to make some improvements, here are 10 tips to help you write the perfect college paper!

1. Define Your Goal

First things first, you need to know exactly what you are trying to achieve with your paper.  Is this a research essay?  Reflection paper?  What prompt have you been given for this paper?  I usually copy and paste the essay prompt to the top of the document while I’m writing a paper.  It helps me stay focused on what I’m trying to achieve so I don’t go off on any tangents.  Usually, you are trying to answer a question with a paper.  Make sure you know what question it is.

2. Always Create an Outline

Always, always, always create an outline.  This is usually the first thing I do after I determine my thesis.  Your outline should have at least three main points of your essay, and two or more sub-points to back these up.  I am usually not too picky with my outlines at first, and I always contain more points than I think I will actually need.

3. Write down everything

As you’re writing, don’t hesitate to write down anything that comes to mind; as long as you keep it organized.  You never know what may become of a crazy idea that comes to you on a whim.  You can always edit things out later if it doesn’t fit in your paper.

4. Plan to write more than what’s needed

I would much rather edit out superfluous information than scramble to meet a word count on an essay.  Plan to write more than what you need, then edit it down to only your best writing.  Sometimes I write a complete paragraph and then realize it really doesn’t belong in my essay, in which case I’m glad I planned to write some extra material.

5. Save introduction for last

This may be standard operating procedure for many people, but that’s because it works.  I much prefer waiting to see what my paper turns out to be, then write an introduction that reflects it.  The same goes for conclusions and transition paragraphs if you plan to write those.

6. Avoid certain words

You should know if your professor is comfortable with you using first person words like “I” and “me.”  However, you may find your writing improves dramatically if you completely nix words like “very” and “really” as well.  Sure, it may seem easy to write the same way you speak, but your professors may not agree.  Instead of saying something like “I was really excited to see the show” try thinking a bit more professional sounding, such as “the audience was buzzing with anticipation of the performance.”  Some other words I try to avoid in my writing are “also” and “that.”  It’s made a huge difference in the quality of work I produce!

7. Substantial supporting evidence

No matter what you are writing, keep in mind to always back up your ideas.  It should be a constant call and response of claims and evidence.  This applies to any type of paper you are writing, but particularly pay attention to this when writing argumentative essays

8. Take breaks

Maybe you are the kind of person who can focus on something for hours on end, but I definitely am not.  Breaks are a strategic way to keep your mind focused on the task at hand.  Sometimes I can be responsible with my time and how long I am on break, but other times I require more discipline.  If you are really struggling with writing a paper, try giving yourself a short break every 15-30 minutes.  (If your break involves Pinterest, you might want to time yourself to only a few minutes!)

9. Get some feedback

After you’ve finished your rough draft, it’s a good idea to get a second pair of eyes to look at your paper.  You can grab a friend, your mom, or even check out some resources online!  One such service is Analyze.AcademicHelp.net.  Their service will help catch all the little things you miss in any paper such as proper spelling, punctuation, possessives, and more.

paper

I gave this service a try on an essay I had to write for a theatre class.  They caught several things I missed when I proofread my paper.  There is an actual person who will read over your paper and make corrections.  You can even correspond with them in the chatbox on the right and ask questions about your paper.  If you are looking for a second opinion on your paper, I would recommend checking Analyze.AcademicHelp.net!

10. Learn from your mistakes

After you turn in your paper, there is really nothing you can do.  Whether this is a relief or more cause for worry, it’s important to look at the work you’ve done and learn.  With every paper you write, get as much feedback as you can and apply it to the next paper you write.  Your writing skills will improve immensely with time and effort!




Stressed Out College Student Resources

stressed

This is the time of year when students everywhere are getting stressed out.  Not only is this unhealthy, it’s unnecessary to stay stressed!  Many college students have made it to graduation in one piece, and you can too!  The key is to get a handle on stress and keep a clear head.

Luckily, we have some lovely ladies who have already put a lot of thought into handling stress!  The college blogging community is a great resource for students no matter where you are or what you study.  Stay calm.  Don’t stress.  You can do this!

Don’t Freak Out

Whether you’ve just started to feel the stress of the semester, or you are up to your neck in papers and tests, this is the first thing to remember: don’t freak out!  Anxiety will not make things any easier for you.  The following posts are really helpful for reminding us all to not freak out when the workload starts piling up.

Handling A Busy Semester from buckeyebliss.com

Dealing with Overwhelm in College from collegewithcaitlyn.com

Productivity

Next, comes productivity.  Being organized and efficient with your time is so important for preventing stress in the first place.  Taking a few minutes to get organized can really help the amount of work you get done in a day.  These posts are all about organization and productivity.  Hopefully, this will help you prevent stress in the future!

How I Stay Organized from collegewithcaitlyn.com

9 Productivity Tools You Must Have on Your Home Office or Study Desk from michelleadamsblog.com

10 Ways to Be More Productive Right Now from laughswithoutfear.com (that’s right here!)

Destress

Honey, you need to take some time for yourself every now and then.  If your school work is taking so much of your time and energy that you are neglecting yourself, you need to rethink your priorities.  School won’t help you out in the long run if you destroy yourself in the process.  These posts should give you some ideas on how to destress and take care of yourself.

Activities to Unwind and De-Stress during the Semester from thecosmicroad.com

5 Things to do When You’re Stressed from kaylablogs.com

Great Ways to De-stress from lilieandviolets.wordpress.com

 




How I Got A’s in All My Classes This Semester

classes

Sometime during high school I realized that I was a was a good student.  After that, I realized that I had to work to keep it that way.  I actually wish I had realized these things sooner because it seems that there is always one person ahead of you in some way.  Although I may have surpassed a lot of people in academics, there were certainly several people ahead of me in my high school class.  Just a few numbers can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in scholarship money or awards.

But I am happy to announce that I got A’s in all my classes this semester!  After several long months, all my hard work has finally paid off.  Even if you totally expected to receive good grades, it’s still worth being proud of!  Today, I would like to share some of the tips and tricks that helped me bump up my GPA.  Quick disclaimer: I realize that everyone is an individual, and there is no right or wrong way to achieve success in your classes.  What works for me might not work for you.  Nevertheless, if my tips can help anyone else, I am happy to share the love!  Without further ado, here is how I got A’s in all my classes this semester!

I study something I love

I hope this goes without saying, but loving your education makes college a million times more endurable.  If you truly love the content and the work that goes into your classes, then your classwork don’t seem nearly as grueling!  Because I am a theatre major, most people realize right away that I am in this major purely because I love it.  On the flip-side, I have talked to plenty of people who adore theatre and have maybe even considered going to college for it, but they are scared to take the plunge.  But, trust me, my college experience is a blast because I am studying something I am passionate about.  I couldn’t imagine it any other way!

I am not alone in my classes

Now, I realize my major is pretty different from other fields of study, but I still benefit so much from the community of theatre majors I am surrounded by.  In my theatre classes, I always have several of my friends right alongside me which makes it easy to ask questions and collaborate on our classwork.  We frequently discuss our classes and help each other with projects or problems that we encounter.  We also have a lot of fun  in our classes too!

I made plenty of time for my homework

This didn’t always mean that I started a project several weeks before it was due, it just means that I dedicated specific time for working on big projects or papers.  I more or less budgeted my time during the week to have enough time for schoolwork.  I almost never worked on homework after 8pm, just because I didn’t like it!  I still had plenty of time for all my schoolwork.  Productivity is key!  Here are 10 Ways to Be More Productive Right Now.  These habits saved me plenty of time!

I avoided stress

This goes along with budgeting my time during the week.  I mostly didn’t work after 8pm because I needed that time to relax.  I also passed up opportunities to hang out with my friends because I knew I needed to recover from a busy day.  Stressing about school will only have negative effects on your classes, so learn to take control of stress.  Here is A Foolproof Guide to Dealing With Stress in College; all these tips help me conquer stress in my own life which allowed me to focus on school.

I worked on having a healthy attitude

Can I emphasize the word worked?!  This semester was hard!  For the last two months of the semester, I was having a terrible attitude about school.  I didn’t like my classes and I didn’t like living in the dorms, but I got through it!  I tried really hard to have a good attitude and cut the negativity out of my life.  I failed a lot, but I still finished strong and got good grades in all my classes!  Sick of school? Here’s What to Do When You’ve Had Enough of This Semester.

I had a voice in my classes

If I had a problem with something in my classes, I felt no remorse in emailing my professor about my concern.  For example: in my public speaking class, I was giving a speech and a girl walked into class late and completely broke my focus.  She loudly opened the door and walked right in front of me as if I wasn’t even there.  I had seen this happen several other times during other speeches and I had had enough of it.  I emailed my professor and told him that it was very bad speech etiquette to enter a room while someone was giving a speech.  He addressed it with the class and it didn’t happen again.  Do you see what I’m saying?  You are paying for this education, so don’t feel bad about having a voice in your classes.

Confession:

Ok, here’s my secret: getting good grades isn’t very hard for me.  This doesn’t mean I effortlessly get A’s in all my classes all the time, it just means that I’ve worked hard to develop good habits that are now second nature to me.  Developing good academic habits is the easiest way to get straight A’s.  Because of the discipline in instilling these habits, getting A’s this semester was a breeze.

I am always looking for more college or study tips to help boost the good ol’ GPA!  Let me know what tips you have for getting A’s in your classes.  Is getting A’s something that comes easily to you?  Or are you still working on developing good academic habits?  I want to know!

Why Everybody Should Be A Diva

why everybody should be a diva

What do you think of when you hear the word diva?  Chances are you think of someone who is really stuck up, covered in expensive couture, and bossing people around.  The word “diva” has come to mean someone who is generally pretty dislikable, but still seems to get everything they want.

Hang on.  Here is the dictionary definition of what a diva is: a famous female singer of opera.  That’s it.

The term diva has evolved over time, and it is still evolving to this day.  It used to simply mean an accomplished singer, but I frequently hear it being used as an insult or descriptor word of somebody that is pretty high-maintenance.  But as the word has continued to evolve, I think the term diva has come to a completely different definition altogether.  I think the best and most relevant definition of a diva is a person who values their creativity, respects themselves as an individual, and draws attention to themselves because of their authenticity rather than their ego.

Some classic examples of modern divas would be Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé (duh).  These people have achieved diva status not only because of their amazing talent but because they are truly one of a kind.  There are many other singers you may not be aware of who actually do sing opera, and sing it very well.  These people are first-class divas too.

This kind of diva sounds like someone I want to be.  In fact, I think anyone with a creative bone in their body should aspire to become their own brand of diva.  Since I aspire to be both a singer-diva and an overall-creative-diva, here are some steps I’m taking that may help you become a diva as well.

Divas don’t try to copy others, they love being themselves

Has anybody ever become successful by copying others?  No matter what field you are attempting to achieve diva status in, I’m sure you have people you look up to.  However, aspiring to be exactly like these people isn’t your key to success.  I think it’s wonderful that there are so many incredible people that feed my inspiration, but if I’m ever going to be that kind of inspiration for anyone else, I must be totally confident in being myself.

They look fierce all the time

Of course, it is natural to assume that divas “look the part” all the time, but that is not necessarily true.  Real divas own whatever they are wearing because they don’t get their confidence from the clothes they wear or how their makeup looks.  Divas wear whatever they like, even if it doesn’t conform to current trends.  In modern terms, these divas are called trendsetters.

Divas value their own creativity

One of the biggest mistakes an artist can make is selling themselves short.  It’s easy to compare yourself to others and see that you haven’t accomplished as much, but give yourself credit where it is due!  I am so guilty of undermining my success, but it is something I am working on improving.  Every diva knows that what she creates is worth her time and a success in itself.  So don’t sell yourself short!

Every diva knows that what she creates is worth her time and a success in itself. Click To Tweet

They may have fear, but they don’t let it stop them

Obviously, you can’t be a diva if you are constantly checking for approval from others.  No one can truly escape fear, but that doesn’t mean you should let it control you.  Any good diva will look fear in the eye and move on with her life.

Divas lift up themselves by lifting up others

One of the problems I have with the popular definition of a diva is that it seems to imply that divas don’t care about other people’s work, or will even slam the work of others to build herself up.  Divas are of course honest all the time, so when she sees something she likes, she will, of course, say something!  Take every opportunity to praise other divas; they will surely return the favor.  True divas are not threatened by the success of others.

True divas are not threatened by the success of others. Click To Tweet

They don’t need the approval of others to be happy

Divas sing or act or write or paint or do whatever because they love it.  Of course, it’s always nice to have the approval of others at hand, but take it or leave it because you should only be trying to make yourself happy.  If your work can make others happy, great!  But your work doesn’t need the approval of others to survive.

Divas graciously accept compliments and critique

Do you ever find it hard to accept compliments?  I know I do.  Sometimes all you need to say is a simple and sincere “thank you” and leave it at that.  When people compliment you, it’s because you earned it.  So like I said before, don’t sell yourself short and simply accept the good that others see in you.  Likewise, critique can be equally hard to accept, but the same procedure applies.  Whether or not you agree with the critique, smile and say thank you.  It’s the least you can do, and it may help you improve yourself.

While I am still aspiring to become a singer-diva, I am taking these steps so that I can become a diva in all areas of my life.  I believe that divas are a powerhouse of confidence, which they exude in all areas of their life.  In fact, I’m sure we all know plenty of divas in our own lives that are pretty fierce!  It might be your mom, or your best friend, or one of the upperclassmen at your school.  Either way, I believe we all have the power to be a diva.

Oh, and I also think guys can be divas too. 🙂

So, what do you think of this?  Do you like this new-and-improved definition of a diva?  Let me know in the comments what you think about aspiring to become a diva or some divas that you might look up to! 🙂