Best Study Spots: Revealed!

Hello, RU family! I have been asked a lot recently — being the nerd that I am — where my favorite places to study are… and there are certainly a few. Below, I have outlined my 4 favorite places to hit the books… and notes… and powerpoints… I have also rated the locations based on quietness, aesthetic appeal, and food availability. A score of 0 basically means “bad” while a score of 10 basically means “fantastic”.

 

LIBRARY OF SCIENCE & MEDICINE

QUIETNESS: 10

AESTHETIC: 5

FOOD: 0

WHY I STUDY HERE? I study at the Library of Science & Medicine on Busch because, well, those are my people. This library is most prominently filled with science majors, pre-meds, etc. Most of the time, you can hear a pin drop in this building. I love walking up the stairs to the top level and sitting at one of the desks by the windows to do my work. There are bookcases, chairs, and tables galore, but, unfortunately, no food options without having to leave the building. (Meal-swipe locations that are a walk or a bus ride away include Woody’s and the Busch Dining Hall!)

 

STARBUCKS

QUIETNESS: 5

AESTHETIC: 8

FOOD: 10

WHY I STUDY HERE? I study at Starbucks (most often the one on George Street) because I love the coffee shop vibes, and even though it may not be the quietest place, the atmosphere always gets me in the mood to get to work. Superfluous food and caffiene options (You can use RU Express!) will motivate you and give you the brain power you need to focus, despite the constant buzz of espresso machines and conversation. I almost always find a seat as soon as I get my drink, and tend to stay in the store with my laptop open for at least a few hours. (If Mexican food is your thing, there’s a Chipotle right next door!)

 

THE ACADEMIC BUILDING

QUIETNESS: 9

AESTHETIC: 10

FOOD: 0

WHY I STUDY HERE? I study in the Academic Building, next to the Honors College, because it is a quiet, beautiful, well-lit place to study and read. There are computer labs, printing stations, and a learning center — I couldn’t ask for more! … Actually, I could. The Academic Building is a great place to go right after you’ve eaten something, for there are no easily accessible places to eat near/in the building without taking the walk to Brower Commons or The Yard. I’d throw a snack in my backpack, if I were you.

 

DOUGLASS STUDENT CENTER

QUIETNESS: 4

AESTHETIC: 7

FOOD: 10

WHY I STUDY HERE? I study in the Douglass Student Center because I love the way the tables/booths are arranged, and I am impressed with the wide variety of cuisines offered for the small price of a swipe! Mid-study-sesh cravings can be satisfied with pizza, Chipotle-style burrito bowls, bar-n-grill food, deli sandwiches and more. This place does get a bit noisy, because not everyone comes here to hardcore study, but I certainly find that it’s the perfect place to go over some Quizlets.

 

BONUS! Study Spots To Avoid! This is just my opinion, but I would stay away from Kilmer Library (it can get pretty rowdy), any residence hall lounge (these can also get pretty loud), and any dining hall. Don’t study while you’re at a dining hall! You deserve a break to just focus on the food, my friend.

 

Hope this article inspires you to branch out and find a new place to study this semester! Cheers.

Before Due Dates/Deadlines, Utilize the Library

On Livingston, there is Kilmer. On College Avenue, there is Alexander (my personal favorite). On Douglass, there is Mabel Smith Douglass Library. This is only a petite percentage of Rutgers’ widespread collection of libraries among New Brunswick, additionally including the Newark and Camden campuses.

Particularly, since I am a New Brunswick student, I would like to express (and share with you) the assistance and importance of using the nearest library as an academic safe haven; as a spacious center for scheduled focus, collective silence, and in some circumstances, even a book-filled cavern for comfort.

Each Rutgers library is an advantageous setting for studying, as it contains resources one cannot often find in a housing unit, apartment infrastructure, or in his/her regular home.

In Alexander (as in Kilmer I’m aware), there are individual empty rooms – equipped with chalkboards, a round table, and regular seating – that can be exclusively booked for a student’s group-study convenience. There are independent carrel desks that are rowed in an organized fashion among shelves and shelves of incredible books. There are available desktop computers, printers, photo-scanners, and other devices that may not be available to every student’s hands in their day-to-day routine. Rutgers’ libraries are crucial to the function of the community, as they are a space that provides silence for students: for the future writers, mathematicians, scientists, chemists, engineers, and all the other types of doers and creators.

Before the approach of first exams and midterms, try to use the library more than once this semester! Of course, before procrastination may sink in for an assignment. While many students may understandably feel more comfortable in the privacy of dorms and housing for long-term studying, the library offers a motivational space for morning, afternoon, or even late-night work – where completion is guaranteed. The Kilmer library maintains flexible evening hours, so while distractions may arise in the evening (such as the sleepy sight of one’s bed or a gathering of friends at night), the library is (again) an academic safe haven; a motivational free space for an individual or a group to study, enjoy the silence, and accomplish tasks in a timely manner.

How to Start Planning? (or at least my method)

Obviously staying organized in college is important. From due dates to exam dates, classes and offices hours to exams, there’s a lot. Personally in high school I never used a planner and I miraculously managed to get through the year. Now I don’t know what I would do without a plan of what I am going to when and where I have to go. So here is the method that I use to organize my life.

 

My biggest lifesaver has been Google Calendar. At the beginning of the semester, I didn’t use it but now I don’t know how I survived. What I like about google calendar is that you can make a separate calendar for each aspect of your life. So you can make one calendar for classes, another for your gym schedule, and another for personal activities. After you filled all your commitments, then you can go in and fill times to study in between classes. On top of that if someone says are you free at 4:00 Thursday, it is quicker to check your calendar from your phone than to try to remember your schedule off the top of your head

 

This is honestly just me, but I also use a planner. For me there is something about writing down on your plans on a piece of paper. I use google calendar to be able to pull in on my phone in case. So at the beginning of the semester when I got my syllabi, I filled out when my exams and any quizzes that I have. The planner that I use is a Passion Planner. The thing I like about this planner I can make notes and really brainstorm. So when I think of something, I immediately put it down in my planner where I can easily find it. In addition the Passion Planner, allows me to reflect every month and see my progress on my goals

 

So here is the method that I use to do organize myself with both of the Google Calendar and my planner. So I always have a basic plan on google calendar with all my classes and office hours. So on Sunday I plan out my assignments (I usually always know when my homework is due before hand). So on Sunday I plan out when I finish my assignments. And every night I double check my Google Calendar and all of tasks and copy it onto my planner. That is my organization and so far it is working.
Obviously everyone is different so make sure you find a plan that works. When you find a organization plan that works for you, it can be a powerful tool.

“I live in the Honors College”

This is going to be one of my more personal posts, but I’d like to speak on something on behalf of the Honors College students.

First of all, the “Honors College” is the body of students with the title and not just the name of the dorm. The Honors College is different from the Honors Program in that there’s an aspect of living with fellow Honors College students for a year and taking part in social entrepreneurship projects.

That being said, I did not ask for the fancy air-conditioned dorm. For those of you who do not know, it is mandatory for us to live there so we can build relationships with our fellow Honors College students. We are expected to be interdisciplinary. Otherwise, we would not be able to be part of the Honors College. After moving in, I fell in love with my new home for its beauty, and well I didn’t have another choice for the year, so it makes me sad that I feel self-conscious when telling people that I live there.

I feel self-conscious because Honors College students apparently get a lot of hate for being called “the best” of Rutgers. I’ve never encountered it, but I hear about this self-consciousness from my peers. Most of us will not even mention that we’re in the Honors College up until you ask us “where do you dorm?” I’m also sure a majority of us do not consider ourselves “the best” at all. We just ended up here by the judgment of Rutgers officials based on the same application everyone else filled out and went with it.

I personally agreed to be part of the Honors College because of the scholarship. College is expensive, and I was not going to turn down $13K for a really good school. I also agreed because of the opportunity. I knew I would have “Honors College” on my diploma which may help in getting me into graduate school (at the time, I was considering medical school).

We did not want to be considered special. We are not prestigious or arrogant, and we do not look down upon students that are not in the Honors College. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Honors College, but it’s because it pushes me to better myself- not because it tells me “I’m the best.”

Personal Training at Rutgers

With so much food at your fingertips, it can be a challenge to eat healthy and prevent weight gain. There’s always worry over the “freshman fifteen” but not much talk about what can be done to prevent it. Organizations such as RU Healthy may push students to go for the greener dining option, but remember that the other key component to a healthy lifestyle is exercise.

Upon entering Rutgers, I became one of freshman fifteen’s victims, and I was truly disappointed in myself because I had lost so much weight for my high school prom just a few months before. This pattern was not new though- I always lose weight then gain it back and lose it again and gain it again, etc. My weight was my number one insecurity, so it’s no surprise that when learning about Rutgers’ fitness and recreational activities, I quickly became interested in personal training.

I could’ve done what I did before- count calories and run everyday- to lose weight, but I signed myself up for personal training to see if it would end this pattern and losing-and-gaining. I thought that if someone was keeping track of my weight, I would feel the pressure of shedding pounds and keeping it off. And I was right.

Not only have I lost 9 pounds in a month, but I lost the struggle in facing temptations. I remind myself to eat for energy rather than satisfaction. When I want seconds in the dining hall, I think of how much my body has improved from training and the urge goes away. Also, I remind myself of the assessments to be done during each training session to get myself to go to the gym.

Personal training at Rutgers does not have to stay in the Rutgers gyms either. The trainers teach you technique and create personalized workouts to be done on your own. I take my trainer’s advice with me to Planet Fitness (in Piscataway) on the weekends because the Rutgers’ gyms tend to be packed and aren’t open 24/7.

Lastly, I love personal training because my personal trainer is awesome. I would assume all of them are just as encouraging. They easily see your limits and are able to push you far enough to see your potential yet not so far that you get discouraged. They are understanding of your busy schedule and make it known that you can talk to them about any problems that come with this lifestyle change- and they’ll change up your program accordingly. There’s no reason to be intimidated around them.

If you are considering doing personal training, especially in light of the new year, I highly recommend it!

Crew: The Forgotten Scarlett Sport

Rutgers is a humongous institution. Its size is easily noticeable when it comes to soft data: the number of students (that nearly exceeds 40 thousand on New Brunswick campus), the countless number of extra-curricular activities, and finally, the unlimited number of sport organizations that one can join here.

Without a doubt, it is excellent to have a wide range of such opportunities. The way of spending time in college is a matter of individual attitude, since everyone, to a bigger or smaller extent, plans a weekly schedule on their own. Playing sports is a matter of a personal preference, and everyone can make their own decision about how active they want to be.

The diversity of sports at Rutgers is also represented by the status that the university assigns to it. Sports are divided into 3 categories: intramural, club, and varsity.

Teams that belong to the first category are usually participating in amateur leagues inside the school for recreational purposes. They can be formed by people of both sexes and who, in general, seek a fun way to spend their free time.

Varsity, however, are the most prestigious teams, greatly supported by the university. Members of such, in recognition for their hard work, are sponsored and offered scholarships; they also compete with other colleges at the highest level and often achieve excellent results in the National Championships.

It is not easy to describe what is in between. Club teams usually gather players that represent the university and play against other schools, but at the same time are not as generously sponsored by their alma matter as varsity teams are. As stated on the Rutgers recreation page, “Rutgers Sport Clubs continue on as student run organizations that exist to assist individuals to develop skills and improve their performance in a particular sport or physical activity.”

What can be inferred from this sentence is that the members of club team are not considered to be stars, but rather students who are just willing to improve themselves in a particular discipline — what further implies that club sports are taken less-seriously by Rutgers and are not really considered to be as competitive as varsity.

It is not surprising that some sports are prioritized over others, because this happens through the entire world — based on region, sports that gain the most attention are also the object of financial support.

Therefore, I can understand that Rutgers, as a member of Big Ten Conference, puts an enormous amount of money into American Football (nearly 19M in 2014, according to nj.com), even though the performance of this team in the past fall was, to put it mildly, far below expectations — that, nevertheless, does not stop the fans from filling the High Points Solution Stadium to the last seat (especially during the game against Penn State).

 

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Rutgers – Penn State game in September 2014 / scarlet knights.com

 

I mentioned all of that because I want to emphasize, that the postulate I’m presenting is not against any sport; it is pro some particular values — such as respect of the tradition and hard work — that are essential in the Rutgers curriculum, but at the same time are not entirely executed by the Board of Directors of Rutgers University.

Every sport is special, but for me the most meaningful is the one that was first at Rutgers — crew.

I described some of my experiences with rowing in my first article. For more than 150 years (since 1864) each generation of Scarlett male rowers is united by the same values: hard work put at every practice, its intensity, and finally the beauty and unspeakable satisfaction that it gives.

Being a part of the rowing team is a big responsibility and an honor. Unfortunately, a few years ago, crew has been relegated from a varsity to a club team status.

 

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1952 Olympic Champions: Chuck Long and Tom Price / rucrew.com

 

University explained that the decision was made because of the financial reasons. It is a strong point, but the explanation that came beyond it was not persuasive. In the article on this topic by Joe Rivera, it turns out that Rutgers overestimated the cost of restoring the varsity status over 300 times!

Rutgers Crew Team competes with the best among the nation, such as the schools from both Ivy League and the West Coast. Varsity status should be awarded to Rutgers crew not for the sake of every student being sponsored, because I can understand that the current budget is incapable of spending so much money, but rather in recognition of the tradition formed “on the banks of the old Raritan”, that this university so proudly tells about in its alma matter. As well as in recognition to the sport that sent 14 athletes on the Olympic Games.

I truly feel that bringing back varsity status to the crew team is very important. It is not only about the money — obviously, there is always a need for financial support — but most importantly about showing that Rutgers is proud of people, who represent one of the oldest and finest traditions of this school.

Preventing Student Burnout

It’s already the second week of a new semester, and I am already exhausted. Yesterday I was doing my Calculus homework all day and I honestly got burnout because it took forever. Luckily for me, it wasn’t too bad and I was able to start studying again a couple of hours later, but being burned out is rough. When I’m exhausted and burnt out, I start to daydream, I don’t get any work done, I start to feel alone and anxious, and sometimes I question what I am doing and why I am here. So I started researching what college burnout is and how to deal with it now and in the future. 

  1. Time Management
    • Time management is the key to everything. But if you manage your time well, you should have time to study, sleep, and hang out with friends. Also don’t procrastinate your homework or if you have a lot of homework, don’t finish it in one sitting. I was doing Calculus homework for at least 4 hours and I just couldn’t go on. I started daydreaming and I had to stop because I was not actually doing anything.
  2. Exercise / Sleep
    • When you are feeling burnt out,maybe it is a good idea to sleep. It will help you and your brain relax and calm down after your brain has done its workout.
    • This comes along with time management, but plan out that you are going to sleep for at least 6-7 hours a day preferably 9 hours. If you find yourself overwhelmed with work, then consider dropping a class. Your mental health is very important for your motivation, sanity and simply being healthy.
  3. Take Breaks when you work/ study
    • I find this technique called the Pomodoro Technique, even though it sounds fancy, it basically you work for 25 minutes and just sit and relax for another 5 minutes. During your break don’t go on social media or go on youtube because your brain then focuses on another task and will have difficulty refocusing on your assignment. During the five minutes get sit there and breathe . If you can try to meditate or at least stretch your body.
  4. Hang out with your friends
    • If you have the right friends they will help you feel more motivated and may even focus better. In addition you will clear your mind off of the task that you are doing so that when you come back you are fresh and ready to tackle the problem. Hanging out with your friends can help you feel less lonely which is one cause for burnout.
  5. Ask for Help
    • There are many free resources that you can use the main one being the Learning centers or even any office hours that your professors will hold. Often times you can’t overcome a mental block in your knowledge that’s preventing you from fully understanding the material, a tutor can help you overcome that. So when you understand the subject matter, you will feel more confident and be able to prevent burnout.

 

Try to Prevent Student Burnout before it becomes a problem. Its no fun to deal with, trust me I’ve been there.

Online Courses: At Your Own Pace

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This semester, I am taking an online course for the first time in my college career. My online course’s accessible platform through eCollege has offered me the tools to succeed in a virtual classroom: there is a textbook to read, a forum for professor-student discussion, and a grading book in which I can keep track of my own scores and grades. Personally, I am enjoying my online course – and it is teaching me lessons outside of its subject [which happens to be music].

At my own pace, taking an online course is challenging me to become more self-disciplined, self-aware, tech-savvy, and independent. I must ensure that I am getting my homework/assignments complete on time without the physical reminder from an instructor in a physical setting. I must also ensure that I am absorbing the material, taking advantage of the resources provided through eCollege. I must keep in touch with my fellow classmates and my professor on a forum and I am responsible for these types of interactions and connections. There is a list of responsibilities that come with taking an online course, but these responsibilities are shaping me to become a better academic student and self-sufficient individual who can manage my learning at my own pace (while still appropriately reaching due dates or deadlines).

Taking an online course can impact time management skills positively (if done correctly), but most obviously, taking an online course can ease one’s schedule or travel time. For commuting students or students whose schedules are hectic and demanding, taking an online course is incredibly beneficial. During weekends, I am able to access my course and continue my work when planned. If I am up late on particular nights, I can pick up on a chapter and begin or continue homework for a unit. Oppositely, if I am up early in the morning, I can access my online course and continue the same activities.

Taking an online course is a decision that every student faces, especially if there is clear reason to take an online course. For students who are working full-time/part-time, commuting, or simply desire to sharpen his or her time management skills and independence as an academic learner, then taking an online course (interspersed with physical courses) is an excellent addition to one’s schedule. It is a diverse and different form of learning that benefits non-traditional (and traditional) students who wish to take this opportunity as an advantage to develop and grow at Rutgers University.

RUAB: Rutgers University Alternative Breaks

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My team! RUAB The Right to Rights.

Getting involved on a college campus can be intimidating, and on a campus as large as Rutgers University- New Brunswick, it can almost seem impossible.  For freshman especially, joining clubs and really becoming “a part” of something is not fun when every one else seems to already know each other or know what they’re doing.  However, I was not going to let that stop me.

I spent my entire first semester relentlessly searching out new clubs and ways to get involved.  I’ll admit, I went to clubs where I felt like my voice didn’t matter and I gave up.  I also auditioned for various theater clubs on campus without much success.  Despite this, I knew that time was on my side and eventually, if I kept trying, I’d make it.  This hope is what helped me find Rutgers Alternative Breaks.

RUAB is a program found under the Leadership and Experiential Learning group here at Rutgers.  In high school, I was very involved with service and I knew that it was something I wanted to continue doing in college.  I had heard about “alternative spring and winter breaks” where instead of staying home or going somewhere tropical, you go away to a place with a group of students and do community service of some sort.

At first I was nervous, nervous that if I went on a trip I would miss out on time at home or away with friends, nervous that I would be alone the whole trip, nervous that the other students would be more well versed on the topic of interest than me and I’d just be lost.

I ended up applying despite my fears and got my first trip choice: RUAB The Right to Rights.  I knew that the trip would be focused on refugee resettlement and human rights and that it would be a flying trip, but I did not know where we were going until our first pre-trip meeting.  In the pre-trip meetings we learned a large amount about the type of service we would be doing and discussed our feelings toward the subject at hand.

I was not sure how close my group would become during the pre-trip meetings, since we did not really have much time to get to know each other.  But on the trip, that all changed. I would have to say that the four hour flight delay on our way to Georgia really did help bring us together as a group, but I also think that the process of the site leaders choosing their team is extremely effective, and luck was on our side.  I would say that from what I have heard many other alternative breaks have a similar experience.  One in which, throughout seven days of service together, the entire team learns about one another in a way that you cannot find on campus.

My specific work in Clarkston, Georgia is a week that I will never forget.  It has shaped me as a human being and brought amazing people, who I can now call friends, into my life.  It is awesome as a freshman to have found something to get involved in that is so rewarding.  I now feel that Rutgers is more of a home to me, one with friends who know and care about me.  A place where I can be active and a place where my voice can be heard.

My number one advice to anyone out there looking to get involved: don’t stop, keep searching, keep trying out new things, and trust me, you will find a home.  I highly recommend RUAB to everyone.  Whether you are outgoing or shy, there is a place for you on a team, and there are so many different service options.

So, get out there and get involved!

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