Your To-Do List for THIS Week

Where did winter break go? Time sure does fly when you spend most of it netflixing and raiding your parents’ fridge, right? Next Tuesday kicks off the new semester and the countdown to class is on, leaving you feeling a wee bit overwhelmed. It seems like you have a boatload of stuff to do and little time to do it.

So, what now? Where do you begin? Begin by reading over this helpful to-do list. If you tackle these 6 things before syllabus week starts, your readiness level (for the upcoming semester) will be off the charts!

1. Trade out your textbooks. Undergrads, this is an easy feat, but most students don’t take the time to do it. Textbooks are expensive and it’s a shame to leave them sitting idle underneath your lofted bed.  Why? Because as time goes on, the value of them depreciates. If you wait too long, they’re sure to become outdated and it may even be hard to sell them at all.  Selling your old books sooner than later will also help you to finance your new book purchases. You can take the money you collected from selling your old books and put it towards buying new ones. Plenty of websites purchase used textbooks from college students just like you. CheapestTextbooks, Chegg, Amazon, and BookFinder are just a few.  In addition to these sites, you can also join Facebook groups like Buy & Sell Your U of M Textbooks in order to cross this task off of your to-do list.

College Textbooks MemeAs far as buying new books goes, we recommend that you A) scope things out first and B) shop around. Let’s be honest, textbooks are pretty pricey and you should only buy the ones that you’ll be using. Don’t go and buy all of your textbooks right now because chances are you’ll regret doing this later on. Instead, attend all of your classes during the first week, read through all of your syllabi, and pay a visit to RateMyProfessors to determine which books need to be bought. By reading through reviews on RateMyProfessors, you can usually find out how your professors are going to utilize the textbook readings. In fact, many reviews will flat out tell you to purchase the textbook or to forget about buying it. If you’ll be having weekly quizzes on your textbook readings, buy the book. But if your professor uses the book to create their PowerPoint slides and only wants you to use the book as a supplementary source of learning, you may find that you won’t need it.  Moreover, once you decide which books to buy, try to score them for a screaming deal. Shoot to rent your books or find used books being sold at reasonable prices. When shopping around, don’t forget to check out!

2. Stock up on school supplies. Have enough highlighters, paper clips, and pens? What about pencils, staples, and post-it notes? Check your desk drawers and create a list of necessities. If you find that your supplies are running low, you’ll have to head to the store and spend some dough!

3. Set your schedule. Find out when your classes are, when you work, and what days you have extracurricular activities on. Then, grab a pen and some paper and start scribbling this info. down. Creating a weekly schedule will help you to set up a routine and it ensures that you’ll always be in the right place at the right time.

Campus Map

4. Find your classes. At the U, this is always an adventure. Navigating your way around all three banks is tough work, and it requires a little bit of prep time. We suggest that you map out your routes to class before the start of syllabus week. Get your butt to campus and figure out where you need to go and how you’re going to get there. Remember gophers: there is no such thing as being fashionably late to class. Walking in late on the first day will just make you blush and it’s a bullet that you should try to dodge. To avoid getting lost, click here.

5. Check out the U’s event calendar. Take a look at the University’s event calendar to see what this semester has in store for students. Glance it over and then mark down some of the dates in your student planner. Go ahead and expand your horizons! Try something new and plan to attend an event that appeals to you. Whether it’s a book discussion or a choir concert, check it out! This helps you to take advantage of campus events, and it gives you something to look forward to. Also, admission to these events is FREE.

6. Apply for some scholarships. What’s better than free money? Nothing. This task may take some time, but it will pay off in the long run- literally!

Get to work, gophs! If you act now, you’ll stress less during syllabus week.

Photo Cred: College Books, East Bank Map, You Better Work, To Do List

New Year’s Resolutions

“New year, new me”. – Everybody

When January rolls around, it seems like everyone is making New Year’s resolutions, but by the time February hits, most people have already called it quits. Why? Because it’s hard to keep the enthusiasm up weeks after you’ve already brushed up mounds of confetti. Although many people may make resolutions for the upcoming year, very few people stick to them for a 12-month time period.

New Year's ResolutionsFollowing through on New Year’s resolutions is tricky, but it’s not impossible. If you’re serious about sticking to yours, test out the following tips and be ready to see yourself succeed.

Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions

Last Minute Minnesota Gifts

Did finals get in the way of your holiday gift buying? Fear not! We have compiled a collection of last minute gift ideas— with a twist! Every item has a connection to Minnesota so you can share a piece of your journey as a UMN student while impressing everyone on your list!

Cutting Board

Minnesota Cutting Board Cutting board or a conversation started? The entertainer on your list will love this beautifully-designed piece, whether it’s on display or serving hors d’oeuvres. $19.99

Minnesota Blanket
Wool Stadium Blanket Those November football games can get cold. Thankfully, this Minnesota-made Faribault Woolen Mill blanket is a warm way to support everyone’s favorite team, no matter how unpredictable the weather gets. $220.00 

PlannerMini SmartDate Planner Set This stylish little planner is exactly what any busy person hopes to find under the tree. It offers monthly, weekly, and hourly organization options, so that no task or assignment gets overlooked. Extra credit: Russell + Hazel is a Minnesota-based company! $54.00

Classic MocClassic Moccasin These mocs are cozy enough for the coldest winter and maybe that’s because they were created by Minnesota-based Minnetonka Moccasin. Give the gift of warm feet and watch other gift-givers take a seat in defeat. $56.95

Wild Rice Soup

Wild Rice Soup Mix This one-pound bag of wild rice soup only requires one word: yum. $8.63

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing Package Sometimes the best gifts are experiences and what better way to make a memory than by partaking in the Minnesota pastime of fishing on a frozen lake? This ice fishing package through Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods comes complete with a heated fishhouse, supplies, and lunch. Prices vary.

Goodnight Loon

Goodnight Loon This gift takes the children’s book Goodnight Moon and gives it a uniquely Minnesotan twist complete with hot dishes, pontooning, and those pesky deer ticks. $9.95


Minnesota Hotdish Poster This poster is not just decoration– it’s meal inspiration, featuring over thirty hot dishes that will perfectly accompany a classic Minnesotan grape salad. $5.99

UMN Padfolio

U of M Padfolio Gift yourself! With a pocket for resumes, a notepad, and a nod to the alma mater, this portfolio is the professional touch you need for job fairs and interviews. Consider it an investment in your future. $22.95

Love Your Melon

Love Your Melon Two St. Thomas students developed Love Your Melon with the mission of providing a hat to every juvenile cancer patient in the United States. Not only will your purchase provide a cozy hat or clothing item for a friend or loved one, but also to one of the tens of thousands of American children diagnosed with cancer each year. Prices vary.

Minnesota FareMinnesota Fare This gift basket of Minnesotan delicacies includes maple syrup, wild rice soup, candy, and more! (Hint: Buying this for a parent checks off the gift list and allows you to sample all the goodies.) $49.95


Sports Tickets Between the Gophers, Vikings, Timberwolves, Twins, Saints, Lynx, Swarm, RollerGirls, and more; Minnesota has a sports team for every type of fan. Whether it’s to cheer on a favorite team or gain a new experience, gifting tickets is an exciting way to share your Minnesota pride with your friends or family. Prices vary.

All photos above are found at the link listed, aside from the photos for Love Your Melon, St. Paul, and Sports Tickets.

Study Strategies: Finals Edition

Looking to ace your final exams? Try implementing these study strategies!

1. Study when you’re sleepy.  Spend about 15-25 minutes studying right before you hit the hay. During sleep, the brain strengthens new memories, so there’s a good chance you’ll remember what you reviewed right before dozing off. (Just try not to study in bed because this may make it harder for you to fall asleep!)

2. Space it out. A relatively new learning technique called “spaced education” involves breaking up information into small chunks. You are then supposed to review these little chunks consistently over time. Let’s pretend that you’re enrolled in a chem class and you know that you’re going to be tested on the Periodic Table in just a few days. Don’t try to memorize the entire table in one sitting. Instead, learn a few rows each day and review each old chunk before starting to learn new ones.

3. Tell a tall tale. Turning the details you need to remember into a short story helps make the information more meaningful to you. For example, remember the order of mathematic operations, PEMDAS, this way- (PPhillip (EEjected (MMary’s (DDisk (ASASAP.

4. Change up your scenery. Research suggests that studying the same material in different places makes us more likely to remember the information at hand. This is because every time we move around (from the library to the coffee shop, or from the coffee shop to Coffman), we force the brain to form new associations with the same content. Thus, this material becomes a stronger memory.

5. Add some variety. If you’re studying for a math midterm, remember to study different types of problems in the same sitting. In fact, studies show that students who study “mixed sets” do twice as well as those who don’t. For example, if you just focused on a set of division problems, you would simply solve them by using division. You wouldn’t think about what strategy needs to be implemented in order to come up with the correct answer. But doing a series of problems that require different operations (such as multiplication, subtraction, or addition) means that you would have to stop and think about which strategy is best to use. With mixed practice, each problem differs from the last. Thus, this teaches you how to choose the appropriate procedure (something you will have to do on your finals). This technique helps prepare you to use the right strategy for finding the solution to a problem.

6. Try testing yourself. Quizzing yourself may be one of the best ways to prepare for the real deal.

7. Write it out. It’s time to put your third-grade penmanship lessons to good use! Students store information more securely when they write it out by hand versus when they type it (click here to read more about how this works!). Work on recopying the most important notes from the semester onto a new sheet of paper.

8. Take a break. Taking regular breaks can boost productivity and improve your ability to focus on a single task. Also, for a real productivity boost, step away from the screen and break a sweat by having a midday workout sesh. Research has found that just by engaging in a half hour of aerobic activity, one can improve their brain’s processing speed and other important cognitive abilities.

9. Play some tunes. Classical music has been known to reduce both anxiety and tension. Though listening to it won’t make you any smarter (people often believe that it will, but this is a myth), it can still serve to improve your memory. If you want to get super specific, listen to music that’s 60 BPM. Research suggests that’s when the benefits will be highest. So smartypants, give those biology notes a soundtrack and start to stress less.

10. Whip up some coffee or tea.  A little bit of caffeine won’t hurt. Staying energized is a big part of absorbing information/ course material. But remember, don’t go off the deep end! We don’t want you crashing in a matter of hours.

11. Read out loud. Reading information out loud means mentally storing it in two ways: by both seeing it and hearing it. But Gophers, we can’t guarantee that this won’t get you kicked out of Walter. (You might want to try this one at home!)

Happy studying, CEHD!

Photo Cred: Alright, I’ll PeekI Want One!, Scantron