Try one of these cheap homemade (and pretty awesome) Halloween costumes

Hey, Halloween is three days away. Do you have your costume yet? What? You procrastinated and don’t have one? Really? (Insert sarcasm here.) Well, we have found some cheap and relatively easy costumes you can make, just in time for the campus Halloween party.

PhotoForOct30PostAfter all, they don’t have to be fancy. SecondPhotoForOct.30Post

These ideas are from Brit Morin:

A piñata – All it takes is some clever positioning of colorful crepe paper

Super Mario brothers – Overalls, a train hat and some felt

The old dude from the move UP – All you need are some nerd glasses, some balloons and a cardigan sweater. A bow tie helps, too.

A bag of jelly beans – Fill a clear garbage bag with balloons and affix the Jelly Belly logo.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss – Red outfits and blue hair. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Good in the sack (you have to really see this one to get it.)

Here are some more ideas, courtesy of Kelly Armstrong, who wrote an article for her student newspaper:

Zombie — There are many tutorials on YouTube to show you how to do it. 

We found a crazy unzipped mouth tutorial that you gotta see:

Smartie pants – Use an old pair of pants and glue bags of Smarties to them.

Dice cube – Get a big box, spray paint it white, use a marker to color in some dots then cut holes in it for you head and limbs.

Toga – Who doesn’t have an extra bed sheet lying around?

A little white lie – Write on a piece of masking tape some of the things people lie about: “No, those pants don’t make your butt look big” or “This is my natural hair color.” Then tape all the lies to yourself.

If you try any of these costumes out, send us a photo.

Happy Halloween.


13 tools to avoid Internet distractions

We’ve all done it, been working on a paper or project and then was distracted by a photo someone posted on Instagram, an article someone tweeted or a funny video your friend told you to watch on YouTube. Then you spend too much time on those online distractions, and you don’t finish your work.

Well, help is here. Hack College has 13 tools you can use to cut down on Internet distractions.

Create a separate account with limited access. If you’re using Chrome or Firefox, you have the ability to start a separate browsing account, which you can create with limited access to the websites you like to access.

Mac has Self-Control
This is a free app for Mac that will block your access to the sites you choose. You can pick how long you can have access to those sites, then you’re locked out when that time expires.

If you’re using Firefox, this is pretty much the defacto site blocker.

This site is also for Firefox users and not only blocks the site you tell it to but disables the hyperlinks that link to them.

Need help remembering the due dates for assignments. If you’re using Firefox you can put them all into ReminderFox, and you’ll get periodic reminders so you never miss a deadline again.

If you use Chrome, you might want to try one of these anti-distraction tools.

This site blocks social media widgets from loading, so you won’t see any reminders on your research website.

We mentioned this earlier. This tool allows you to limit the time you spend on certain sites.

This will also block distracting sites but will allow for a 10-minute break when you want to access them. However, after that break, you’re blocked again.

Chrome Nanny
Just like a nanny, this site is more rigid in its restrictions.

Strict Pomodoro
With Strict Pomodoro, you get a worker timer and a break timer.

Rescue Time Productivity Meter
You won’t be able to block sites with this program, but it will tell you how you spend your time online. Once you see how much time you spent on tumbr, you may change your habits.

This one is a little different. If you need to memorize some stuff, enter it into the program. Then, while you’re online, it will ask you that same stuff. Once you know it, it won’t ask you anymore.

Facebook Courage Wolf
This doesn’t really block Facebook, but it does put a snarling wolf in the background of your Facebook page as a reminder to get back to work.

Use these apps to get organized and be more productive

In previous posts, we’ve talked about the importance of ignoring distractions and being organized so you can ace your classes. Well, as you know, technology can be pretty awesome, and there are some apps you can download that will help you with that. These suggestions come from Hack College:

Evernote, OneNote and GoogleKeep
Any one of these apps can help you with note taking, meeting deadlines and remembering things.

Here are more:

Don’t want to carry all of the handouts you get in class? With this app you can take a photo of them with your smartphone and have them converted to searchable PDF files.

Need help budgeting your money? Who doesn’t? Mint will log and categorize all of your transactions and show you where you’re doing well and where you’re overspending (and it won’t yell at you when you spend too much).

It’s easy to get distracted by online temptations (No, we don’t mean THOSE temptations) such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. However, with StayFocused, you can set certain sites to be locked or limited to a certain amount of time per day. Keep in mind, though, that it costs about $6 a month. (More on this later.)

Google Drive
Ever write a great paper, store it on your hard drive and then somehow it magically disappeared? Yeah, it’s pretty awful. If you install Google Drive, you can store all of your school documents to the cloud, and they’ll be accessible wherever you have online access.

If you try any one of these, let us know how it worked out for you.

Signs your college student may be having trouble

Since you’re not new to this parenting thing, you know there are times when your kids don’t tell you everything you should know. That means you have to watch for the signs. College Parents of America  just released the latest edition of “College Parents Handbook for Student Success,” which is filled with helpful information.

This year’s handbook offers signs that your son or daughter isn’t doing well at school. He or she:

  • Calls home a lot if he/she normally doesn’t
  • Never calls home if he/she usually does
  • Wants to come home often if he/she usually doesn’t
  • Never wants to come home if he/she typically does
  • Doesn’t want to return to school
  • Is negative about everything
  • Is not participating in any activities or groups
  • Is not going to class
  • Is not completing projects
  • Is getting low grades
  • Has lost a significant amount of weight
  • Has an excessive need for money
  • Is not sharing information

How you can help.

Wait it out
While you may want to fix whatever the problem is immediately, it may be wiser to give him/her time. This will give your son or daughter time to realize the problem and resolve it.

Talk with your child
Tell your son or daughter why you’re concerned and that you’ll help him/her in any way you can. Encourage him/her to stay on campus to work through the issue, though that depends on how big the problem is.  Typically, though, it may be better for them to deal with the problem than come home and escape it.

Help your child create an action plan
Once he/she explains the problem, help him/her develop a plan that he/she can control.

Suggest campus support
Colleges and universities provide a wide range of supportive services for students, including academic assistance, counseling services, and health services.

Help your child identify the root of the problem
Helping to figure out what caused the problem will put your student one step closer to solving it.

PhotoForOct.21PostVisit your student on campus
This will help you see things in your son or daughter’s environment, which you may find helpful. Coming to campus will also help you connect with your student without his/her coming home to escape the problem.

Give him/her a break
This is probably the last resort, but if the problem is severe enough, he/she may need to take a break from school, maybe withdrawing from the current semester.

Good luck.

Failed a midterm? Here’s what to do

Even though you took good notes and studied, you bombed a midterm exam. As awful as you feel, it really isn’t the end of the world.

You University TV  has some suggestions on what you can do now.  Don’t sweat. You can do this.

PhotoForOct16PostGo see your professor
Ask him/her where you went wrong. Ask for advice on how to improve your grade in the future. Explain how you studied for the exam. He/she may have suggestions on how you can study more effectively.

Talk to your adviser or other academic counselor
Have you bombed tests in classes in your major before? If so, maybe you need to consider another major.  Your adviser or academic counselor can help you decide if you’re in the right major.

Get some help
One way to avoid bombing another test is to get some help. There’s no shame in asking for assistance. Maybe you need some help fine-tuning your study skills. Or, maybe you need to work with a tutor.  Most schools have academic centers where this kind of help is available. Swallow your pride and visit those folks.

Test anxiety
Maybe part of the reason you did poorly was because of text anxiety. Not sure what that is? Mary Coller, our director of the Academic Advising Center, can explain it to you:

Chin up. You’ll do better next time.

Use these test-taking strategies

We know you’re hunkering down, studying hard and making some good grades. Last week we gave you some suggestions on how to study more effectively. Today, we have some test-taking strategies for you. They come from Mary Coller, the director of our Academic Advising Center.

PhotoForOct14PostStudy well in advance of the test
Don’t wait until the last minute or the night before the big test. Cramming won’t help.

Review your notes
Look over them on a regular basis, again, not at the last minute.

Develop study guides
Whatever works for you such as flash cards, outlines or other memory devices.

Get help
Again, this is something you really can’t do at the last minute, but if you’re having trouble, go see your professor or a tutor.

Find a study group or partner
You can quiz each other on the material but will help you retain the information more effectively.

Mary has even more suggestions:

Good luck.

6 ways to study more effectively

You’ve been on campus now for a little more than a month and — we hope – you’re getting into a good study groove.  If you haven’t quite gotten there yet, we have help. Our pals at Lifehack have six suggestions on how you can study more effectively.

Take good notes
The key is to make sure you understand what you’re writing. You won’t get anywhere if you’re just repeating what the professors says or what you read. A former intern on our campus has some suggestions on how you can take good notes.

Go over examples and sample questions and their answers. Practice until you’re confident you know it.

PhotoforOct9PostMake sure you have a comfortable area to study – but not too comfortable
Where you study needs to be just right – not too hot, not too cold. Not so comfortable that you’re going to want to nap instead of study. But not uncomfortable that you’re distracted and can’t concentrate.

Eliminate distractions and interruptions
Keep all distractions and interruptions away so you can concentrate. If you must have your phone, do not access Facebook or Twitter. Temporarily turn off the email function on your phone. Don’t choose a room that looks out over the quad if that’s just going to make you want to look out the window at your friends.

Set goals
Before you start studying, set some goals or objectives. Is there a particular idea you want to master? An essay you want to practice so it’s just right? Or a particular amount of time you want to study? Figure that out beforehand then do it. Remember to reward yourself with some free time once you meet your goal so you don’t fry your brain.

Get some sleep and stay healthy
You may think downing a few Red Bulls and skipping dinner so you have more time to study will help. It won’t. Your body and mind run like an engine. An engine needs good fuel. And, an engine needs rest. Make sure you eat well and get at least seven hours of sleep.