Tag Archives: college tips

Why Every College Student Needs Notion In Their Life

Let’s face it, staying organized in college is hard. Especially when most classes are online through Zoom or in some cases, completely asynchronous and self-paced. 

As a first-year college student, I was struggling with finding a way to organize my academic and personal life. Then I stumbled upon a productivity app called Notion. Those unfamiliar with this app are probably wondering what exactly is Notion and how exactly it works.

Released in March 2016, only available on web browsers and macOS, Notion works as a fully customizable interface described as an all-in-one workplace. From a daily journal to reading lists, creating a vision board, a budget tracker, or my personal favorite, a school semester planner, the app works for just about anything.

Also, one major bonus is Notion’s Personal Pro plan that is free for students and teachers who sign up with their school email account with no credit card required! Check out this article from Notion Official to learn more about setting up your personal workplace.

Along with free access, Notion’s Personal Pro plan offers users unlimited file uploads such as images, videos, audio, embeds, web bookmarks, and more. As well as unlimited guest collaborators on pages, and access to the version history of any page for up to 30 days. 

If you are new to the app and unsure where to start, I recommend checking out Notion’s templates available for users to duplicate and customize. Some popular templates include class notes, weekly or daily agendas, personal course schedules, meeting notes, and tracking job applications.

When I was first experimenting with Notion, a YouTube channel called Janice Studies was especially helpful in my journey to find out what works best for my needs.

Last year, she posted a video tutorial for a school semester template that included a weekly course schedule, a master schedule with assignments and due dates, as well as course pages with class information and topic lists. It was a lifesaver and I am forever grateful I found her channel before my first semester at UT.

Then, earlier this year, she posted another video tutorial for a new and updated version of the previous template. Similar to the last one, this is currently saving my life this semester.

This template features a master schedule and weekly course schedule. I found this one to be much more detailed with course pages now including lecture notes, learning objectives, and a grade calculator.

Another helpful resource for users new and old is the Notion Made Simple Facebook Group, which has nearly 34,000 members. In this group, users are allowed to share their workspace, templates (most of them are free but some cost money), tips and tricks, as well as ask questions if you are ever struggling or confused about something.

The most recent resource I have found from the Facebook Group is a website with free templates from Pranav – NotionSquared for a reading tracker.

Screenshot by Thalia Menchaca

Working as a digital library, this template allows readers to track their progress for multiple books based on the number of pages read. It also has the option to click on the title and start a new page for taking notes as you read. The website also has templates for goal tracking, efficient to-do lists, and spaced repetition for working or studying.

Though it may sound dramatic, I don’t think I would have survived this year not only without Notion but also these incredibly helpful resources that are free and available to users. Although there are moments when I struggled to customize a template to my liking (and also because I am a perfectionist), it gets easier as you get more accustomed and play around with it.

Featured Image by Lauren Breach

10 Tips to not go insane during zoom university

As fall rolls in and schools all across America open their virtual doors to students, frustration and uncertainty begin to set in. Going from an in-person learning environment where the teacher is five feet away to answer questions, to the isolation of virtual learning is physically draining and emotionally exhausting. Staying on task is a challenge in itself with the dog barking in the background, or mom walking in the room to ask a question while the professor struggles to figure out how to unmute themself.

Online classes are overwhelming at best, and panic-inducing at worse. So, as we all struggle to enter the correct zoom codes by the time class starts or figure out what’s due tomorrow, here are some tips to help get you through the insanity of Zoom University.

Illustration by Serena Rodriguez

1. Put Yourself on a Sleep Schedule

With most classes online for the fall semester, professors have given up on attendance policies and resorted to recording lectures to be viewed at any time. While the course usually isn’t self-paced, there’s not always a requirement to wake up on time for that 8 a.m. This could definitely lead to thinking ‘why not just sleep till noon?’ — It’s tempting, definitely, but keeping your body on a schedule will help you in the long run. Not only will your internal clock thank you, but you’ll spend more days waking up refreshed than groggy and ready to go back to bed.

2. Separate Your Work Area from Your Sleep Area

The mind is capable of a lot, but if you’re constantly curled up under your covers in bed while flipping through powerpoints and taking notes, it’s not going to be able to differentiate sleep time from work time. This could have a major effect on your sleeping patterns, especially if the place you’re supposed to be sleeping becomes a source of stress instead of relaxation. Work at the kitchen table instead, or at a desk, to help keep the spaces separate and the mindsets in each space separate too.

3. Make Time to go Outside

While it might seem pretty cool at first to not have to go out and do things, it can also be detrimental to your physical health. The sun provides natural vitamin D, and even if you can’t be out partying with friends all the time anymore, you should still make time to go for a walk or even just sit outside for a bit. If nothing else you could always sit at a Starbucks patio and do some homework (or scroll through tiktok, whatever keeps you out in the sunshine for a little longer).

4. Plan at Least One Full Week at a Time

While classes seem less organized this semester as everyone struggles to get a handle on online learning, it’s important to do your best to plan ahead. I personally always try to plan two weeks out in order to make sure I’m keeping up with assignments, but planning a weekly schedule is probably the perfect time frame. Make a note of all the important due dates that week, when to do those more passive assignments like readings, and try to think about how much time you’re willing to spend on school work each day. Block out a specific amount of time instead of going back and forth with the work all day to continue to help differentiate relaxation from work.

5. Do Your Chores

Sitting around the house all day without having to worry about looking decent can make chores like laundry seem daunting and unnecessary. Make time for this stuff too. Don’t let the dishes get out of hand or the clothes take over the floor. Cleaner environments can actually reduce anxiety and depression levels, while being cooped up all day could definitely exacerbate those problems, so do what you can to help keep your environment looking good — your brain will thank you.

6. Make Time for Friends

Whether it’s a Zoom party, a socially distant coffee date, or a day at the park, make time for the people you care about. Isolation has a lot of negative effects on human health, and while it might seem harder to spend time with people, be sure to put in the effort to get in some quality time with them. The serotonin will start pumping again, I promise, and it will be a nice break from all the extra online schoolwork.

7. Use GroupMe (Or Some Other Alternative)

Now more than ever it’s important to create spaces to contact your classmates. It’s not like you can reach over and tap someone to ask for their number, so the best thing to do is to talk to the professor about getting a GroupMe link sent out to the class so you can have a one-stop-shop to talk due dates, get some help in the class, or even just complain to someone who understands the struggle.

8. Don’t Slack on Hygiene

Just like you need to clean your house, you need to clean your body. Just because nobody is around to smell your bad breath doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush your teeth. Sometimes, when there’s not a daily structure that in-person classes provide, things like hygiene can be  forgotten. It’s important to remind yourself to keep up with the things you would normally do. A nice shower is the perfect getaway from all things Zoom University, and will  leave you feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the day may bring.

9. Organize Your School Space

Since you’re separating your sleep and workspaces, make sure you take the time to organize that workspace. Having papers everywhere and pens sprawled across the area can lead to confusion and frustration, and sometimes when things get too messy it can make you feel like giving up. Don’t let your school space get disorganized, instead follow some tips from a fellow BurntX writer to help keep your space organized.

10. Actually Go To Class

Okay, so it’s not mandatory. Attendance policies are a thing of the past and all the lectures are recorded for whenever you want to watch them, so, why even bother? Getting that live zoom lecture is the closest to an in-person feel you’re going to get. You can ask questions in real time and talk about points you need clarified up front. Beyond that, you can meet classmates and use breakout rooms to your advantage to get names and numbers of people who can help you get through the course. As much as I’m sure we all wish it was, this is not a semester off from hard work. So whether it’s an 8 a.m. or an 8 p.m., make sure you’re logged into zoom and ready to participate for the majority of the semester.

5 Starbucks to drink to get you through your 8:00 AMS: As told by a Starbucks barista

  1. Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice

What it is: LOTS of espresso over ice, mixed with classic syrup , and topped with 2% milk.

Why we love it: The Doubleshot is a great way to get your caffeine fix while also staying cool in the Texas heat. It is an awesome mix of strong and sweet, just like us Longhorns.

How to make it your own: The Doubleshot is one of the most easy to customize drinks on the Starbucks menu! You can substitute any syrup on the menu (caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, sugar-free cinnamon dolce, etc.) for the classic syrup or ask for no syrup at all. You can also swap out the 2% for a variety of kinds of milk (almond, whole, heavy cream, etc.).

Barista tip: Try adding vanilla bean powder for a bit of added sweetness and texture!

2. Chai Tea Latte

What it is: Black tea infused with an element of spice, a hint of water, and 2% milk.

Why we love it: The Chai tea latte is the perfect way for tea lovers to get a kick of caffeine. It is also a great combination of spicy and sweet.

How to make it your own: Chai tea lattes can come hot or iced. Plus, you can switch the standard 2% milk for any milk (coconut, soy, breve, and so on). If you are in the mood for a richer drink, you can request no water and all milk for the hot version of the chai tea latte (the iced version automatically comes with no water added).

Barista tip: Try adding vanilla syrup (regular or sugar-free) to make your tea, and day, a little sweeter.

3. Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino®

What it is: Whole milk, vanilla bean powder, ice, and coffee blended together and topped with whipped cream.

Why we love it: Between the coffee and the sugar in this drink, it’s sure to give you an energy boost to help you make it through any study session. It’s also the perfect treat to congratulate yourself with for a job well done or just for going to all your classes that day.

How to make it your own: The whole milk in frappuccinos can easily be swapped out for a different type. You can also add java chips or hazelnut syrup to create a more complex and unique flavor.

Barista tip: Add an affogato shot (a shot of espresso poured over the whipped cream and Frappuccino) for some extra caffeine and a stronger taste.

4. Guava Passionfruit Drink

What it is: Coconut milk, a guava juice blend, and pineapple-ginger syrup shaken over ice. 

Why we love it: This is the perfect summer drink. It’s fruity, bright, sweet, and most importantly cold. Plus, the vibrant pink color of the Guava Passionfruit Drink makes it a great addition to anyones Instagram.   

How to make it your own: The coconut milk in this drink can be swapped for any other milk on the menu. If you’re not a guava fan, you can also ask to substitute a peach juice blend in place of the guava. Plus, depending on how much on a sweet tooth you have, the number of pumps of pineapple-ginger syrup is completely customizable. 

Barista tip: Try getting the Guava Passionfruit Drink blended with creme base for a delicious slushie-like version. 

5. Cold Brew with Dark Cocoa Almondmilk Foam 

What it is: Cold brew (brewed for 20 hours), ice, and a topping of almond milk blended with mocha syrup and cocoa powder. 

Why we love it: This is the drink you have been waiting for, dairy-intolerant folks! There is just almondmilk in this delicious drink. The strength of the cold brew mixed with the sweetness of the chocolate foam makes a yummy and low-calorie (only 40 calories in a grande) treat. 

How to make it your own: Even though “almondmilk” is in the name of the drink, you can still swap it out for any other milk. If you’re a chocolate-lover, you can ask for pumps of the mocha syrup in the cold brew as well as in the foam. 

A Guide to Grocery Shopping for college students

Grocery shopping is a common dread for many college students. A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially if it is a store that is unfamiliar. Not only is it a hassle to find the time to physically go to the store, but it can also be expensive. After a few laps up and down the aisles, somehow $80 has quickly disappeared, and on what? Sandwich meat, a box of cereal and eggs turns out to be the quickest money ever spent. Although it may be dreaded, grocery shopping cannot be avoided. Here are some tips to make this weekly chore more efficient and cost-effective.   

  1. Planning is the key to success at the grocery store.

Yes, planning takes time and effort, but in order to avoid overspending, food waste and an unsatisfied stomach, a plan needs to be set. Take 10 to 15 minutes before making a grocery trip to plan the purchases. Think about what meals will be made that week and if any extra ingredients are needed. Go through the fridge and pantry and check for items that have already been purchased. The easiest way to save money while shopping is to use what is already available.

  1. Schedule your trip to the store into your weekly routine. 

Block off time using the planner format that you are most comfortable with. Knowing the trip is already scheduled will make the experience at the grocery store less stressful and rushed.

  1. Download a grocery app. 

Almost every grocery store has an app that allows for online shopping, member discounts and other resources. The HEB app has several tools to make shopping easier. Users are able to scroll through HEB’s inventory and create a shopping list that is automatically organized based on the item’s location in the store. The app also showcases weekly coupons that can be stored on the user’s account and scanned during check-out.

  1. If curbside delivery is available, take advantage of doing the absolute least! 

Ordering your groceries online through curbside is the best way to keep the cart total low. While perusing the aisles in person, temptation from the infinite delicious items on the shelves is unavoidable. Ordering online with a running cart total helps prevent unnecessary and expensive snack purchases. Always check for added fees with curbside and save money by selecting time slots or days that are free.

  1. Do not forget to check expiration dates on items. 

Search through the shelves to find the date that is furthest away from the current day. This will decrease food waste and decrease the number of shopping trips.

  1. When purchasing produce pay attention to the prices.

At most stores, fruits and vegetables are priced by the pound. Do not get trapped into paying $9 for a bag of grapes (This is a mistake I made last week. Do not be me.)

  1. Purchasing spices is an easy and cheap way to take meals to the next level. 

Spices can completely change the boring chicken that has been a recurring meal for the past week into a lemon-pepper-garlic flavorful meal. Start with staple spices like Italian seasoning, garlic salt, fajita seasoning and explore from there.

  1. To save money, buy store brand items. There is typically no outstanding difference in taste or quality, but the price drop is significant.
  1. Do not shop hungry. 

Shopping while hungry will only lead to impulse purchases and overbuying that will hurt your college budget. 

The grocery store does not have to be a fearful place. Approach the shopping trip with an open mind and a simple plan. When in doubt, do not underestimate the motivation found at the sight of an empty fridge. Grocery shopping is unavoidable, so you might as well do it right.