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20 New Semester Resolutions

January 1, 2015

orphan survival guide - social media - spring semester resolutions

I’m not usually the kind of person who makes new year resolutions. They’re just so… abstract and unattainable.

Lose weight? Travel? I’m not great at following through on big, long-term goals like that. Every year I make goals like stop hoarding or read a book a week. But I take a lot of naps and eat entire boxes of Cheez-Its in one day. I can’t aim that high.

What I need more than big resolutions and goals are motivators and routines, so that the things I need to do aren’t huge looming responsibilities.

Instead of a list of new year resolutions, I’m making new semester resolutions. They’re smaller steps with a shorter timeframe, and I’m concentrating on what has immediate consequences for finishing or failure. Don’t drop out or you’ll be stuck at your awful day job forever and keep a daily checklist or you’ll forget to pay your rent on time. Things that are useful and easily done.

Hopefully knowing what will happen if I do or don’t accomplish something will give me some perspective and motivation to actually do it.


Instead of big goals like get all As and don’t procrastinate, I’m focusing on what really matters: surviving the semester.

  1. don’t drop out
  2. don’t skip class (too much)
  3. turn stuff in on time
  4. befriend at least 1 person in each class
  5. take advantage of campus resources


On Monday, I have an interview for a new job within the company at Job #1. It means more responsibility and more hours, but also a much better pay check, benefits, and a nicer work environment.

I also have two other jobs, plus I want to write and blog regularly–maybe even make writing a primary source of income (unlikely, but still nice to dream about).

Finding a good work-school-sanity balance will be key this semester.

  1. meet deadlines
  2. finish things
  3. write and publish/submit at least 1 short story every 2 months
  4. don’t become underemployed
  5. know when to turn down a job and take a personal day


I’ve been doing pretty okay with managing my hoarding tendencies, but it still needs work. I made a checklist of things to do so I can kick-start my routine, so I just need to get off my butt and follow through with it.

  1. keep a daily planner and routine
  2. keep things clean and organized
  3. pay off personal debts
  4. cook more meals and drink more water
  5. stop impulse buying things


The sanity-part of my work-school-sanity balance needs a little attention. I let a lot of self-care go last year and basically turned Netflix and naps into my only forms of decompressing from a long day of work and class. I want to be happier and well-rested

  1. read 1 book per month
  2. track my online and book reading lists better
  3. be more confident
  4. be a good hipster and keep up with new music
  5. move in to an apartment I like

What are your resolutions? What does it take for you to actually accomplish them?

I hope everyone has a great new year and new semester!


The 6 Stages of Getting Over Finals

December 19, 2014

Time to shove your binders and flash cards into a box and forget about them for the next four weeks, because the semester is officially over.

1. Napping

Finals are exhausting, especially when they’re at 7 a.m. Go back to bed and sleep for a week.


2. Obsessively Checking Your Grades

The TA for your Monday morning final posted their grades within six yours–why is it taking everyone else so long?


3a. Emotional Eating

You’re pretty sure you bombed that last final, so why bother trying to maintain your dignity at this point? McDonald’s won’t judge you.


3b. Binge Drinking

Did you totally kick finals week’s ass? Sweet! Drink to celebrate!


Did finals totally kick your ass? Drown your sorrows.


4. Catching Up

Guess what! You have free time! Now you can catch up on all those shows you started watching to escape from the stress of school but ended up abandoning because you had too much to do.


5. Trying New Things

In between Criminal Minds marathons and downloading the weekly Billboard Hot 100, you should have plenty of time to pick up a new skill or hobby, meet new people, or even just go on a lavish vacation.



6. How is it next semester already?!

Didn’t I just sell my book back yesterday?


Have a good break, y’all! You earned it!


resources, studying

Top 5 Sites to Find Study Guides

December 17, 2014

Finals are almost over and I’m doing surprisingly well using other people’s notes and study guides to see what my notes are missing.

Let’s be real: we all have that one absolute nightmare of a class. The tests are hard, the expectations are unclear, the lectures are a snoozefest. Or maybe you just made the mistake of thinking you’d actually show up to an 8 a.m. class even though you work nights.

Sometimes your own notes just aren’t enough to get you through exams in one piece, and you’re too ashamed to go to office hours or study groups.

Thankfully, we live in a world of cheaters and overachievers, so there are dozens of websites that offer everything from lecture notes and flash cards to old exams and free uploads of the textbook.



ClusterFlunk is my first stop. When I’m scoping out classes for the upcoming semester, I always raid ClusterFlunk for old materials.

If I’m being honest, ClusterFlunk is how I was able to skip about 60% of my morning lectures and still pull a B on the exams–because there were a ton of lecture notes and study guides from previous semesters. People have even uploaded some of the textbooks.

Because it’s so new and only available for a handful of schools, it’s hit-or-miss in terms of available materials. Four of my five classes this semester had notes available, and two of those had old exam questions and study guides. You have to register with your school email or Facebook and it’s only available for a few schools, but if your school’s on their list, you can’t go wrong.


Quizlet is a free site that does not require any registration at all. It has flashcards and vocab lists for essentially every class ever. All of my classes had at least a dozen sets of flashcards posted–even my tiny anthro course that didn’t have any students on ClusterFlunk had about twenty flashcard sets on Quizlet.

They’re not study guides per se, but a lot of the uploads are more in-depth than your average flash card.


StudyBlue is another free site, with seemingly no university restrictions, with a lot of resources. I found about 50 study guides, lecture notes, and practice exams uploaded for one of my classes. Adding classes is…difficult, because there’s no logical organization of classes. Searching for materials directly is going to be your best bet here.


I saw Koofers pimped on College Info Geek last week. It’s got professor reviews and grade breakdowns for people who’ve taken the classes, and slots for study guides and flash cards–though I’m not sure how it collected the grade and professor satisfaction ratings since none of my classes had any students listed and no documents posted there. But maybe yours will!


OneClass is another fremium/rewards site. You can pay $6 a month to download things, or you can unlock downloads by uploading files of your own. It runs off of a points system, so you can upload one document in order to download another. You can also refer friends and plug the site on social media in exchange for points.

There weren’t many files available for my classes, but I found one neat feature on OneClass: if you don’t use your points to view files on the site, you can cash them out for $10 gift cards or a boost to your PayPal balance. If you go to class and write up a lot of notes, flash cards, or study guides, this could be a great way to net some pocket change.


A quick Google search pulls up tons of sites that offer study guides, flash cards, exam questions, and social networking with classmates. Some of them are helpful, and some of them are too much work with too little payoff. A lot of them actually require you to pay to download things–but chances are you won’t get a cut of that if you upload documents of your own.


ExamTime is free, and has a lot of documents available for download, but the registration is time-consuming and the search is not intuitive.

I eventually found some study guides and lecture notes for some of my classes, but there is no way to filter and no sense of organization at all, so you’ll end up flipping through documents that seem like they’re for your class but are actually for a totally different school. It may not be worth the effort of searching.

Course Hero

Course Hero is a fremium/rewards service. You can pay them $10-35 a month download what people have uploaded, or you can upload 40 of your own study guides and eventually earn the privilege of being able to download things.

I found fewer than 10 documents for my classes this semester–classes that had 50+ notes and guides uploaded to other sites. I don’t think that’s worth shelling out $35.


StudyRoom is a service similar to ClusterFlunk–part forum, part uploading service–also with limited school availability. UI, a pretty big school, is not currently available on StudyRoom. Since it doesn’t allow you to change schools after registration, I have no way of knowing if it’s actually of use for other people.

With the growing popularity of sites like ClusterFlunk and StudyRoom, more and more school-themed social networks are popping up and giving students a vehicle for sharing tips and tricks. Are there any sites that you’ve found particularly helpful when looking for study materials? Let me know and I’ll update the list!