January
30

College is full of amazing experiences–classes, clubs, sports, campus spots and activities. It is also full of readings, minor tasks, pop quizzes, and exams. Add to that a part-time job, volunteer work, group studies–you name it.  How are you supposed to fit it all into your schedule?

Well, there are many ways to keep track of your activities.  Want our advice on one of the best investments you can make in your life?  Buy a physical, paper planner. The best paper planners include monthly, weekly, and daily (30-min slots) divisions.  

If you can take a power hour every week to organize, using your planner, you will be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.  Not only will you spend less time wondering how to proceed, you will also be more present in every activity. By knowing you are doing something you planned for and that you have set aside time to accomplish other tasks, you won’t have to worry over whether you should be studying while you are having dinner with a friend.    

Follow these steps and tips to make the most of this new miracle in your life:

  1. Make a habit of using the paper planner: Digital tools are perfectly fine, and in fact it’s great if you want to combine both sets of tools.  But sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best way. Quickly jotting down and erasing tasks and events on paper can be helpful for remembering them.  
  2. Set a weekly planning hour in stone: To make the most of this tool, set aside an hour each week to sit down, alone, and take the time to organize your week. The first couple of times might be a little overwhelming. Over time, it will become easier, and you will develop the system that works best for you. It is important to be flexible, but this is the hour you want to keep as consistent as possible in your week. Get organized for the next week, and you will feel less scattered.
  3. Use a pencil: Putting color and personality into your planner might help you cheer up and feel more inspired. The tasks themselves should be written in pencil. It is easier and definitively prettier if you can quickly erase and shift or substitute a task. It also helps you think of your plans as flexible.
  4. Organize monthly, weekly, and daily: Begin by setting all your big events and due dates on the monthly view of your calendar. Then, set those up for each week. Break tasks down into daily activities, especially those bigger projects. Remember to make time for all the important people and activities in your life. School work should not be the only thing in your calendar, at least not all the time.  
  5. Take a look at your agenda after waking up and before going to sleep: By making a habit of looking at your agenda first thing in the morning, your brain can prepare better for the day. At night, make sure to celebrate what you have accomplished and reschedule or reorganize anything you were unable to complete that day.  
  6. Be flexible and adjust: Things happen unexpectedly. Not everything will work out as planned. Don’t panic. Keep calm, and make sure to shift tasks around until you feel comfortable with Plan B.  

Finally, make sure you set realistic goals, and allow enough time for every task. Now that you have this new tool, take advantage of it and keep putting effort into completing those tasks as efficiently as possible. Remember, if you learn to plan and execute well, there will be time for working hard and playing hard.   

Go, try it out! Then, schedule in a few minutes to tell us about your experience or if you have any questions.  

Check out these links for more tips:

10 Tips to Deal with Stress

Posted by: The Wily Network

January
21

Three out of 10 college students reported that stress had a negative impact on their academic performance, according to the 2018 National College Health Assessment. Instead of ignoring stress, let’s embrace it, acknowledge it, and attempt to relieve at least some of it!! While you will inevitably encounter stress during your college years, it’s important to learn how to manage it when it arises. If left unattended, stress can impact not only your grades, but also your overall mental health and well-being. To help you out, the Wily Network has compiled our top 10 favorite tips for handling stress at school. Hopefully they help or at least give you a break from studying!

  1. Practice Healthy Stress Management.

Junk food and social media breaks are quick fixes… in moderation. Stress can last for weeks. That’s why you want to adopt sustainable stress management techniques that will help you in the long run. Keep on reading for some suggestions!

  2. Get outside.

Although studying in bed can be comfy cozy, it makes a world of difference to take a break and get some FRESH AIR!! It doesn’t have to be a jog down the Charles–just a walk around the block or to grab a bite to eat can clear your head and wake you up a bit!

  3. Put down the coffee.

While coffee might seem like your best friend during midterms, numerous studies have linked caffeine consumption to increased levels of stress. If you can’t go cold turkey, aim to limit your consumption to just one cup a day.    

  4. Meet up with a friend.

One of the best parts about college is that friends are never far away. Find that friend who will motivate you, but not distract you too much, and maybe even provide the occasional meme exchange or laugh. Social interaction is a nice way to relieve some pressure and take your eyes off screens and books.

  5. Catch up on sleep.

All-nighters may seem like the solution to your cram sesh, but no good ever comes from exhaustion during an exam!! It is much better to get some sleep and wake up early to study! Sleep deprivation makes it harder to retain information. Make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep to minimize your chances of blanking on a test question.

  6. Watch puppy videos.

Yes, puppy videos are good all the time, but they are BETTER when you’re knee-deep in studying. Seriously, a study done by Deborah Wells found that watching videos of animals encourages relaxation. No need to feel guilty next time you watch funny videos of cats and dogs!   

  7. Remember your purpose.

Why are you taking this class? What do you want to get out of college? Where do you want to be in five years? The answers to these questions may help motivate you to persevere through tough tests and long papers.

  8. Turn off your screens.

Studies have found that regular computer use without breaks can lead to higher levels of stress and sometimes headaches. Netflix and social media might be tempting, but make sure to also schedule some screen-free time to minimize stress and clear your head.

  9. Get organized.

Organization doesn’t just mean planning your calendar, it also means getting into a healthy routine. Even simple things like a regular sleep schedule and cleaning your dorm room can promote stability and get you in the right headspace for study sessions.  

  10. Appreciate your progress.

It’s easy to forget how hard you’ve worked to get to this point, so take a minute to appreciate the incredible progress you’ve made so far. Sometimes making a checklist of stuff you can easily do and crossing them right off can be a nice source of relief.

Taking time away from the books may seem counterintuitive when you’re overwhelmed with readings and tests, but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Stress is a normal part of the college experience, but with the right techniques you can successfully manage it and thrive under the pressure.

December
10

Studying is the common denominator of the student life, and this is especially true during finals season.  The good news is there are dozens of places in and around Boston to inspire you in your studies.

 

Explore your Campus

Most, if not all university campuses, include green areas, libraries, and ultra-hidden studying spots.  Make the most of yours. Switch places to give yourself some color and comfort while studying.

 

Libraries For All

There are plenty of libraries and bookstores that will surely fit your requirements.  These two are great choices you can try.

  • Boston Public Library: This is a classic.  Pay a visit to its central building and bunker down in one of its many beautiful areas.  Or, visit one of its 24 branches. BPL provides spaces for all preferences, from group-study areas to silent spots.  Other library services include Wi-Fi, printing and in-library laptop loans.
  • Cambridge Public Library: If BPL is a little too crowded for you, try this instead.  This library offers plenty of sitting room and quiet areas for a power session.

 

Coffee Shops and Sweet Spots

As you might have noticed, there are seven thousand Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts locations crowding Boston. But Boston is home to hundreds of unique coffee shops.  Here are some other places that are worth checking out. That’s if you don’t mind a little noise:

 

Nature Pleasures

If you enjoy basking in nature and studying outside, consider these.  

  • Charles River Esplanade: Particularly during the warmer days of the year, sitting close to the waterfront can soothe your active mind.  Pack your things and come alone or with friends to study on the docks overlooking the river or at the Fiedler Fields.  The Esplanade path for walkers, runners, and bikers adds an extra benefit if you need an energy boost mid-studying.
  • Boston Common: What better way to learn history than where it happened.  America’s oldest public park’s purpose has changed over the years.  Today, you can sit near the spots where Pope John Paul II and Martin Luther King Jr. gave speeches and are within walking distance from other historical landmarks and the Boston Public Garden.
  • Arnold Arboretum: These 281 acres of green beauty serve as a sanctuary for nature and a good spot to take a break from the city’s buzz.  Pack a book or some notes and study among nature in this part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace. You can also use the facilities in the Hunnewell building including restrooms, a museum, and a library.

Did we miss anything? Share with us your favorite places to study in and why in the comments.  

#GivingTuesday Is More Than A Hashtag

Posted by: The Wily Network

November
26

For the past six years, the charitable season has started with a new milestone: #GivingTuesday. It has become a new phenomenon that takes aim at the commercialism of the holiday season, and is a chance for us to think about those less fortunate and how we can help. It’s not just a chance to brag on social media about donating to a cause, but it’s an opportunity to leave a mark on an organization (or 12!) that is helping care for many.

 

For the Wily Network, we rely on the giving spirit that’s in the air between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. It’s when we receive many gifts that can quickly be used to help a Wily Scholar get through the holidays or start the spring semester off right.

 

Here are some numbers from the 2017 #GivingTuesday that better illustrate how much of a difference one day can make:

  • 21.7 billion online impressions – That means people are talking, sharing, and spreading lots of information. We need you all to get online and talk us up!

 

  • 2.5 million gifts – That’s a lot of gifts! If even just 30 of those came to us, it’ll make a difference for our scholars.

 

  • $120.40 was the average gift – That’s right, while a lot of people are giving $20, there’s so many more that are cutting big checks, even into the thousands of dollars! Just think, $100 buys a scholar that new winter coat they need, or $250 will pay for their meals on break.

 

  • Over $300 million raised – As much as we’d like a chunk of that, we’re modest in that we’re taking small, but meaningful, steps to help our scholars. Our goal for #GivingTuesday 2018 is $10,000.

 

It’s A Tough Time For Wily Scholars

All jokes aside, the giving season and #GivingTuesday is critical for helping Wily Scholars. It’s during this time of year that they don’t have families to visit on Thanksgiving, they don’t have anyone to hit store lines with at 6 a.m., and many just don’t have the happiest of holidays. With a little help, we can give them the extra support they need as college finals keep them busy, but thoughts of the holidays distract them.

 

While you’re out and about on Black Friday and cuddled up on Cyber Monday, use your savings on #GivingTuesday to make a difference. By all means, don’t just give to us, but to other causes important to you and your family during the holidays. Just know that every dime we get means the world to us.

November
20

Thanksgiving is the beginning of the winter holiday season, and many students look forward to the long weekend packed with of food, family, and friends. For some students, going home is not an option. This year marks the Wily Network’s third annual Thanksgiving celebration on November 18, bringing together students from across the Wily community for an evening of food and fun. In addition to the celebration, Wily also hosts a Thanksgiving lunch in Boston and connects Wily scholars to caring gift givers throughout the holiday season.

If you find yourself staying on campus this Thanksgiving, here are a few ideas for things you can do to celebrate the holiday.

Ways to spend your Thanksgiving time:

  • Celebrate “Friendsgiving”: See who else is planning to stay on campus over the weekend. You might be surprised by how many students stick around over the holidays. Try to organize a “friendsgiving” get-together for a dinner, lunch, or fall festivity. At the Wily Network, we host a group dinner each month at a different Boston restaurant and also organize Sunday activities for our Scholars.
  • Explore the city: Boston has so much to offer during the fall season, and there is always something happening in the city. Start planning your weekend by visiting Boston’s official events calendar.
  • Write thank-you notes: The value of a handwritten thank-you letter is often underestimated.  Spend some time writing short notes or emails to those you care about. No need to write a lot, just make sure it’s personal. Friends, professors, and mentors will love receiving a personal note and truly appreciate it. Click here to learn more about writing a thoughtful thank-you note.
  • Get ahead in school: It’s never too late to catch up or do some work in advance.  It seems like a boring way to spend vacation time, but you will thank yourself when you are cruising along throughout finals. The not-so-big secret is that the end-of-semester stress usually kicks in right after Thanksgiving.         

We want to know what you are grateful for.  Tell us what you’re giving thanks for this holiday season in the comments.  

 

October
30

For many students, learning how to budget their money is one of the toughest learning curves when transitioning to college. Greater independence means more freedom and more responsibility. The Wily Network is here to help our Scholars navigate new financial responsibilities. Wily Connects Scholars to financial assistance and management tools, which include a financial literacy program designed to develop skills such as financial planning and budgeting.

Halloween is a great opportunity to practice your budgeting skills by getting creative. You get to decide how much to spend on your great costume, so here are some tips for creating an original and affordable Halloween outfit.

  • Get thrifting: If you’re looking for a costume under $10, then look no further than local thrift stores. Stores like Goodwill* often set up their shops for Halloween, making it easy to find the perfect costume.
  • Be creative: You’re only limited by the scope of your imagination – take a look at DIY Halloween Costumes for College Students to get some inspiration.
  • Check your wardrobe: Do an inventory of your existing wardrobe to see if anything you already have can be repurposed into a costume–all it takes is a little out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Host a costume swap: Many people buy a new costume each year, never to be used again and left to collect dust in closets. Organize a Halloween trade by getting a group of friends together and asking them to bring old costumes and accessories.

 

What’s your DIY inspiration? Have any tips to share? Comment below and let us know.

*Note: I am working with Goodwill for school credit with BU’s PRLab (a student-run PR agency). I hope there’s no conflict but genuinely believe they have great, affordable costumes for everyone.