Upping Your Energy When You Need it Most

OB-YF101_0716ya_D_20130716162021As schedules get busier and classes get back into full swing, our bodies are quickly forced to shake the hangover of those hot, endless summer days. But while most people go through this in the fall, tiredness and fatigue can be more than just an inconvenience, but a year-round distraction for sleepless students.

Don’t let grogginess and irritability hurt your performance in school, and instead shake low-energy spells with these tips.

Dial back caffeine intake

One of the first reactions you might have to the two-o’clock in the afternoon feeling is probably to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink. However, drinking too much caffeine too often can begin to lessen the effects of the drug as your body builds up a tolerance to it. So when experiencing constant tiredness, replace caffeine with lots and lots of cold water, and instead of a thermos of coffee, carry around a few high-protein snacks. These options are not only healthier, but will give you a cleaner awake feeling.

Don’t make same mistakes tonight

Consistently staying up later than you want can be the result of many things. But going to bed at a reasonable time is most commonly a matter of planning and willpower more than anything. So start tonight — set a bedtime that is just a couple dozen minutes earlier than when you went to bed the night before. Also, start a power-down routine where you turn off all electronics an hour before sleeping and do less strenuous activities, like getting ready for the next day or reading a physical book or magazine.

Track sleep

Maybe you are getting all the sleep you can and you still get groggy throughout the day. In this case, it’s probably a good idea to look at the sleep you are getting to make sure it’s good sleep. Use an app such as Sleep Cycle or Sleepyti.me to wake up at the end of sleep cycles and feel more refreshed, or even consider seeing a specialist or contacting SOAR for more information on sleep resources.

Get more sun

Being outdoors makes your body work a bit harder which makes it sleep a bit better at night. On top of that, simply doing your work in the sun increases your vitamin D levels, which is a key component to physiologically fighting fatigue.

Separate sleep and work

When you physically can’t stay awake in class, it’s time to start taking a short nap before or after that class and doing things like sitting up front and practicing good posture to stay alert. By that same token, when you’re going to sleep, make sure your only goal is to sleep — don’t bring work into your bed or go over plans for tomorrow in your head. That convolutes the line between work and sleep, a trap that leaves you with the least energy when you most need it.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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Tech Industry Trends Every Student Should Know

9.12.2014 healthyUThere’s a reason that “Silicon Valley” is now a household term. The rapid growth, large influence, and lucrative opportunities of the area have proven that the tech industry is here to stay.

But it’s also attracted millions of students to the industry, many of whom have been using computers their whole lives and look at the field with dollar signs in their eyes. For those serious about working in the area, though, it’s important to see past the dazzling aspects of it all and look closer at the current-day trends.

Jobs in technology are no longer restricted

In 2014, a general rule of thumb is that if it exists, there is a technology component to it. This means that for students whose first love was cooking, for example, there now is a technological side of it. Find what you love first, then explore the tech opportunities that may lie within.

Portfolios can give you an edge

The accessibility of the internet means that anybody can begin learning and taking free courses on technology at any time. After enough practice you can begin building your own websites, apps, and even “hacking” (deconstructing) current systems – all accomplishments that look good alongside a resume.

It’s no longer an independent job

There’s a reason Silicon Valley is full of collaborative coffee shops and “incubation” offices. Like any innovative work, peer review is key to new, abstract tech ideas turning into sound products. And on top of learning from others, working with others will help you to learn how to collaborate, which brings us to our next trend.

The ideal techie is not all tech

If anything, the skill most lacking in the tech industry is teamwork. As such, companies are more and more looking for well-rounded individuals who aren’t just talented, but team-oriented and communicative as well.

It all happens one step at a time

It’s no secret that the large growth and revenue coming out of the technology industry is unprecedented. However, don’t set your standards too high and expect huge pockets right away. Instead, take what you can get at the start of your career and use jobs as chances to learn more, build skills, and meet people as you climb the ranks.

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Worst Ways to Kick Off the School Year

LUCY FOOTBALLFor your favorite football team, it’s pretty clear-cut what will constitute a good start versus a bad one this weekend: whether or not they win. But for students anxious to keep up with classwork while also attempting to keep their attention balanced on things like family, friends, work (and yes, some football) what merits a good start is a bit fuzzier.

So since there is no true correct answer when it comes to starting your year right, we instead turn to the ways you don’t want to begin. Here are a few of them.

With low expectations - If you’re not excited about some part of school, you’re doing it wrong. Starting the year without any clear cut goals, topics, or events to look forward to can put you into a trap of boredom and should be countered by sorting syllabi, your calendar, and your own goals to find things you have high expectations for.

With a hybrid schedule - If you’re still staying up a bit too late watching Netflix or find yourself hitting the snooze button more than you’d like, it’s time to snap out of your summer schedule and go all-in on a set school plan. If needed, enjoy one more summer-like routine on a weekend, and then accept that it’s time to buckle down by developing a new schedule.

With a litany of questions - For transfers and freshmen especially, not getting certain confusions sorted out before it’s too late can end up hurting you in the end. Write down the things that you’re unclear on – from school policies to individual assignment instruction to planning – and always find them out as soon as possible by contacting an advisor, peer, or your Student Assistance Program.

Doing the same as you did last year – Even if you are completely satisfied with how your last school year went, try something new. Joining a club, switching your routine, or even sitting by different people in your classes can open up entirely new opportunities – the kind that make college productive and meaningful.

On your rear end - Seriously. You can’t get a running start on the school year if you spend all your time sitting. Instead, get active by walking or biking to destinations that are within a couple miles, work out when possible, and simply get out as much as you can. Aside from taking advantage of what good weather the summer still has, you’ll shed stress and gain energy.

Need more tips? Contact ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

HealthyU_Harry (1)

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True or False: Making Sense of Making the Honor Roll

Honor-rollIt’s back to school time. And whether you’re an incoming freshman with butterflies in your stomach or a seasoned senior with nothing but coffee and ramen in yours, every student’s goal is the same: to achieve academic success.

But there are a lot of misconceptions about making the honor roll or dean’s list that can turn students off from the idea, making them think it’s not really worth it.

So let’s sort out some of the common myths from the truths when it comes to having an elite semester.

You have to sacrifice.

True. The extra effort you put into making the honor roll has to come from somewhere. But with the right approach, it is possible to sacrifice things you won’t even end up missing. The key is constant planning and organizing to allow yourself to keep a relatively normal sleep schedule, eating schedule, and fitness regimen, while cutting out less important activities like watching TV on weekdays.

Like any goal, you have to tell it to someone.

False. Unlike common New Year’s resolutions like losing weight or quitting smoking, telling someone close to you your goal is not necessary. Instead, keeping your goal to yourself can help you avoid putting excess pressure on yourself and, more importantly, will keep you in the hunt for personal reasons rather than someone else’s.

People who make the honor roll enjoy studying.

True. And make no mistake about it, it’s completely deliberate that they do. The students who do the best in classes usually chose that class or major for that exact reason: they enjoy it. Pick classes you’re interested in, project topics you enjoy, and, at the very least, try to spin subjects into a way that fits into your interests and aspirations.

All your time is spent alone.

False. In fact, studying alone all the time is the fastest way to make yourself go crazy and not want to press on. Study groups, office hours, and a rotating set of coffee shops or libraries are all terrific ways to keep your study sessions fresh. Also, having someone to talk to about what you’re learning in a more social setting can help you stay engaged.

You need to have been doing it all your life.

False. Reaching your academic goals requires that you’re not afraid to fail, even if it requires putting yourself out there like you haven’t before. Getting in this mindset allows you put your best effort forward on a day-to-day basis, and ensures that you can be proud of yourself no matter what the outcome is.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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The Grand Finale: 4 Outside-the-Box Senior Projects

Bike-MeetingYour final year of college will probably be centered around – or include – some sort of independent project. Independent meaning that, for once, a project does not come with a set of step-by-step instructions or a list of guidelines. While exciting, the idea sometimes ends up leading students to choose the default 5-paragraph thesis or presentation as a safe-bet project.

But if you think more creatively, you can end up with a capstone project that gets your point across in compelling and impressive fashion. Here are 4 outside-the-box ideas that can turn your senior project into something bigger and longer lasting.

#1 Website

Creating a website or app can demonstrate coding ability, computer knowledge, and interface savviness. However, in today’s web-based world, creating a website or app can also serve as a platform to showcase any kind of knowledge, from history to teaching to engineering. If you’re not a website design or computer science major, consider pairing up with someone who is (or learning how to do it yourself) to create a website that compiles everything you’ve learned along the way to your degree. For help researching for your website, check out our research tips.

#2 Business plan

Believe it or not, some of today’s most popular companies began as senior projects. Jamba Juice, for example, was one outside-the-box senior project that took off and created the niche market of smoothie chains which is so popular today. While your project may not turn out this successfully, creating a business plan makes for a more realistic presentation for your panel/audience and gives you the freedom to make any kind of company, no holds barred. It also serves as a chance to learn invaluable economic and forecasting skills for whatever field you’re in.

#3 Client solution

Developing a client solution means that you first have to think of a possible client problem. Brainstorm some of the most pressing, modern issues facing your field today, and imagine that a client wants that issue fixed or circumvented by a deadline (the due date of your project). After this, the bulk of your project will come from solving the problem logistically, while another aspect will be dealing with the human side of the issue – that is, communicating with a client. The result is a project whose critical thinking is apparent as well as compelling for graders.

#4 Curriculum/workshop

No curriculum is perfect. And after going through the entire coursework of your degree, chances are you’ve had some moments of constructive criticism for yours. So why not channel these sentiments into a senior project that looks to create a curriculum tailored to students like you – think tech-savvy students, adult learners, international students, veterans, or anything else you can think of. Creating a workshop or curriculum builds off of your experience, and is one of those projects that stands a good chance at creating actual change.

Want more project ideas? Just ask ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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The Dos and Don’ts of Standardized Testing

lsat_Los_angelesFrom MCATs to LSATs to RN certs to writing requirements, testing in college isn’t always limited to what’s seen on the syllabus. Students who wish to become certified in their industry, for example, must first do well on rigorous, nationally standardized tests, and many colleges even have their own standardized tests that are required for graduation.

But it’s all much easier said than done. Especially when students try to pass these tests alongside a full class load and even fuller life load. To help get you started, here are some of the major dos and don’ts of standardized testing, from the planning phase to test time.

Do schedule heavily. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can squeeze in studying for your standardized test on the bus, during meals, or as a “break” from your regularly scheduled studying. Doing well on standardized tests when you’re already extremely busy starts with careful and written-out planning.

Don’t set a numerical goal. Tests differ every year. As such, historical scores, percentiles, and averages never really mean anything for your particular testing year. So rather than setting numerical goals and getting caught up in the statistics, ease the pressure and up the motivation by simply setting study goals.

Do make a study guide. Chances are you’ve been preparing for your standardized test long before you even signed up for it. So separate what you already know from what you still need help on by making a brief list of topics. Then, find old class notes and read up in review books to freshen up on material and address weaknesses.

Don’t do it alone. These days, there are endless resources to help students study for certifications and tests. Check out local study groups, tutors, online videos, forums, and practice tests. If you need assistance in locating the very best and the most affordable resources for your test, contact your Student Assistance Program.

Do strategize. A good test strategy starts with researching the ins and outs and “rules” of your particular test. If there are sections you know you’ll be better at, for example, plan on answering those questions first. If you know that there is no penalty for wrong answers, be prepared to take educated guesses. Any information you can get on the test can be turned into an advantage for you.

Don’t forget to relax. It can’t be overstated how hard it is to study for standardized tests on top of your classes. Take a break whenever you need to, vent to others, and don’t rule out putting off your test until the next cycle. The last thing you want is for your desire to do well on your test to come at the expense of everything else you having going on.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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Making the Most of Your Entry-Level Job

iStock_000006191773SmallIt doesn’t matter whether you have a doctorate, an associate’s, or are just beginning your higher education. Our careers all get their start in the same place: an entry-level job or internship.

But once you’ve gotten that job, how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of it and not just showing up to work everyday, working, and then leaving? The key is being open and ready to learn, not just to complete assignments. Here are the 5 best tips to getting more than just another line on your resume out of your first job.

Put no work beneath you

When you land your first internship or entry-level job, it’s natural to feel that you’ve made it big. But that doesn’t mean you’re too good to do certain tasks. Realize that filing, assisting, and runner duties are a common way for companies to gauge your enthusiasm, and that having the right attitude can go a long way in making your impression on coworkers.

Ask questions

Asking questions will not only increase the rate at which you learn about your company and your field, but it will show supervisors that you’re truly interested. Come to work each day with 3-5 solid questions (anything that requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer) and don’t be afraid to clarify instructions when you get assignments. It beats having to redo them because you misheard one step.

Plan your next steps

As you begin to learn more about the hierarchy within your company and industry, begin to ask coworkers about the paths they took to getting where they are now. Then, start to analyze where your personality, experience, and education fit into all of this and begin to plan your next step to getting into your dream job, area of education, or career field.

Take notes on what you’re doing

Your time at your first job can fly by. So when it’s all over, it can be difficult to recall everything you did while working when it comes time to update your resume. Make sure that with every new task you take on you are taking detailed notes of what you’re doing, what skills you’re acquiring, and what keywords you’re hearing.

Never say “no”

Beyond just assignments, it’s good policy to never turn down an opportunity to sit in on a meeting or join coworkers for lunch. Networking and hands-on experience are some of the biggest things a first job can offer you, and you’ll find that it isn’t really possible to suceed without putting yourself out there.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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