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7 Awesome Websites to Plan Your Freshman Year

7 Awesome Websites to Plan Your Freshman Year

You’re about to go off to university and you’re not sure what to do. That’s a scary time in your life. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools out there to help you along. Today we’re going to take some time to talk about a few of the best ones out there so that you can make the most of your freshmen year.

Because, as they say, a good start is half the battle, so…

1. Xmind

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    The first step to getting going is to build a good plan. I personally swear by mind mapping, as this really lets you get into the ins and outs of what you need to do. For example, it allows you to visually represent what you’ve got going on and thereby spot faults in your thinking, see where you can delve deeper and slowly but certainly get a true idea of what ahead of you and what you need to focus on.

    It is definitely worth using a good mind mapping tool to know where you’re at and get a better idea of where you’re going.

    Xmind is a great choice, but there are plenty of others out there as well.

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    2. Essay Thinker

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      Here you can get help with essay writing, so that you can get the knack of writing the perfect essay. You see, essay writing isn’t something people are intuitively good at. It’s not like speaking. Instead, you’ve got to practice, learn and study how to do it better.

      One of the best ways to do that is to look at some perfectly executed essays.

      And that is something that you’ll find a great deal of at Essay Thinker. So, get help, get better and get the GPA you deserve.

      3. Roomsurf

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        Another vital part of making university live great is making sure you bunk with the right person. Now at some universities you don’t get a choice as you’re assigned a place. At others, however, it’s up to you to figure out where you’re going to stay and who you’re going to stay with.

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        In that case, you’ve got to check out Roomsurf to find the right person to bunk with.

        Because if you can’t sleep and you can’t study, then university life is going to be brutal!

        4. Unigo

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          Haven’t yet figured out what university is for you? Then check out Unigo, as it will match you with the best university that fits you and your expectations. And that, with the sea of information that’s out there in terms of universities, is something absolutely vital to get to grips with your future and to make the most of these wonderful years you’ve got coming up.

          As an added bonus they also include scholarship program, so that you can come out of university with an education but without a crushing mountain of debt.

          5. iTunes U

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            Not sure what courses you’re supposed to take? Then start out with something like iTunes U where you can take courses from all over the world and some of her best universities for free. In this way you’ll have a leg up in deciding what courses do actually appeal to you and which do not.

            That means you’ll be spending far less time trying to figure out what you want to do during the year, as you’ve already done most of that before it! What’s more, if you keep following the courses beyond the ‘am I interested’ stage you’ll actually get a serious leg up on the rest of the students in your class and be far more likely to get good grades with minimal effort.

            And that means you’ve got more time for a part-time job or a social life.

            And that has to be at least half the fun of uni, right?

            6. Rate my Professor

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              Classes are not just the subject matter, but equally the professor that teaches the class. Some people have the ability to make something utterly boring become utterly fascinating, while some people have the ability to take something that was a defining moment in our species’ history and make it seem as boring as watching grass grow.

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              For that reason, don’t just select your classes based on what you’re interested in, but also based on how good the professors are, by taking a look at Rate My Professor.

              7. TomatoTimer

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                And finally, you’ve got to make sure you actually do the stuff that these tools all outline for you. For that reason, you’ve got to get some motivational apps. TomatoTimer is probably one of the best. It’s simple and effective.

                The idea? If you can work for 25 minutes in a concentrated manner on a task, you can actually do a heck of a lot. Do it a couple of times throughout your day, without allowing yourself to get distracted, and you’re going to be able to blast through most of your work. And so the timer demands that you spend 25 minutes on a task, after which an alarm rings and you can once again slack off a bit (though obviously, you don’t need to).
                In this way, you’ll actually get the stuff done that you need to get done and will actually have a plan in place for your first year of university. And that has to count for something!

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                Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

                7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

                Forgot a name? Misplaced your keys? Taking longer to find the right words? Don’t panic. There’s plenty you can do to improve your memory.

                You’re probably expecting us to reveal 7 little known and newly discovered herbs from the forests of the Amazon, the peaks of the Himalayas and the Arctic tundra. No such luck.

                Despite Americans spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha, Periwinkle, Bacopa, Vitamin B’s, Omega 3’s and memory boosting supplement cocktails, there is very little scientific evidence they actually work. [1]

                Instead, we’re going to offer you 7 completely natural memory boosters, backed up by scientific research. It may take a little more effort than a magic memory pill, but the benefits will transcend your memory and improve your overall quality of life as well, making you more fit, energetic, happy and sharp.

                How Do We Remember?

                The first process in remembering is creating a memory.

                This is where our brain sends a signal, associated with a thought, event or piece of information our mind is processing, over our brains neural pathways, called synapses.

                Think of our neural pathways like roads and information like trucks. The better the roads, the more trucks can be driven.

                The second step in remembering is memory consolidation.

                Consolidation is when the brain takes that thought, event or piece of information and actually stores it in the brain. So now we’re talking about taking delivery of the trucks and storing its contents in the warehouse.

                Consolidation helps us store information and label it properly, so its organized and easy to retrieve when needed.

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                The last step is memory retrieval.

                That’s the step whereby we try to retrieve the information stored in our brains. You know when you have the name of someone on the tip of your tongue.

                You have the information; it’s been stored, but you just can’t find it. Our memory recall is typically better the stronger the memory is and the more often we’ve used it.

                Memory decline is a normal part of aging. However, new scientific research is discovering many new ways for us to improve memory creation, consolidation and retrieval–no matter our age.

                7 Natural Memory Boosters

                So how to work on memory and boost your brain power? Here’re 7 brain boosters backed by science that you should try:

                1. Aerobic Exercise

                Aerobic activity is about as close as we get to a magic pill for our memories. Exercise helps your brain create new capillaries and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new brain cells and connections. To put it in plain english, aerobic activity changes our brains and helps it grow.

                Studies have shown that exercising increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. In fact, even if you start exercising as an older adult, you can reverse cognitive decline by 1 to 2 years and protects against further decreases in the size of the hippocampus, which is essential for memory. [2]

                In another study, reviewed by Dr. Ian Robertson of the University of Dublin, they looked at a group of people of 60 years and older, who engaged in “active walking” for four months.

                They compared them with another group of people who only stretched over the same period of time. After testing both groups before and after the 4 month period, the walkers improved their memory and attention considerably more than the stretching group.

                So which exercises are best and how much do we have to exercise?

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                Turns out, it doesn’t really matter whether you run, swim, row or bike. What does matter is that you push yourself beyond your current abilities, keep doing more, keep getting better. Set yourself short term goals and keep pushing the goal posts.

                2. Sleep

                You need your sleep. The deeper the better. Sleep helps improve your procedural memory (how to do things, like how do I navigate my iPhone) and declarative memory (facts, like what’s my password). [3]

                Even short naps from 6 to 45 minutes have been shown to improve your memory. In one Harvard study, college students memorized pairs of unrelated words, memorized a maze and copied a complex form. All were tested on their work. Half were then allowed to take a 45 minute nap. They were then retested. Those who took a nap, got a boost in their performance. [4]

                Another study showed that getting REM (deep) sleep can increase your memory and mental performance by 33% to 73%. Getting a deep sleep helps the brain consolidate memories through dreams and “associative processing”. However, the study also revealed that heart rate variability in deep sleep also contributed significantly to increased memory performance. [5]

                3. MIND Diet

                Healthy eating, particularly more dark colored fruit, vegetables and oily fish has been shown to improve memory and stave off cognitive decline.

                The MIND diet is proven to reduce the risk of dementia. It’s a mix of the popular Mediterranean diet and the low blood pressure DASH diet. [6]

                The study kept track of the diets of almost 1,000 older adults. They were followed for an average of 4½ years.

                The study concluded that “people whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.”

                The study also showed that people who followed the MIND diet in the study reduced their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in half.

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                So what does the MIND diet consist of? Lots of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine.

                4. Relax

                We all know that stress is bad for our health. It can raise our blood pressure, impact our immune system and interrupt our sleep. Stress also impairs our memory.

                When our body gets stressed, it releases cortisol into our blood stream, which can cause short and long term physical changes to the brain. While cortisol has sometimes been shown to cause increases in short term memory, it can actually decrease our long term recall memory.

                To help reduce the stress in your life, try relaxing with meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Unplug–even for just a few hours. Stop checking your emails, social accounts and news. Release some endorphins with some exercise.

                Bottom line, the more anxious and stressed we are, the less clearly we think, the poorer our memory works.

                5. Continuous Learning

                The mind is like a muscle. The more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. The more you learn, the more you can learn.

                Research shows that learning can actually change the physical makeup of your brain. Not too long ago, we used to think that you were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, which declined with age. New research now shows that we can actually increase the number of brain cells we have throughout our life.

                Aside from staying physically active, learning new skills and studying can actually keep our brains healthier. Consider taking a continuing education class, studying a new language, learning a new instrument, playing new card games. [7]

                Studies show that the more complex the task, the more benefits for your mind. Simply showing up to class is not enough. You need to be actively engaged. Anything that forces you to focus and learn something new and get out of a rote routine will help you sharpen your mind and boost your memory.

                6. Stay Social

                The more deep and meaningful social connections you maintain, the more you protect your brain. Bottom line, the more friends you have, the more people you work with, the more you’re forced to use your brain.

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                Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks of dementia. Without interacting with others, our brains wilt. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression, physical and mental decline. [8]

                In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, seniors with a full social calendar did better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests. [9]

                What to do?

                Party! Seriously, get together with friends as often as possible. Have family dinners. Choose social activities or sports like tennis, golf, cards or go for walks with a friend. Bottom line have fun, build meaningful social relationships and stay connected. Not only will it make your mind sharper and your memory better, you’ll be happier, too!

                7. Wakeful Rest

                This one is getting harder and harder to do. In a world where we can’t sit on a bus, go up an elevator or go to the bathroom without our phones, doing absolutely nothing to distract our minds is becoming increasingly difficult.

                But, the results are in. Doing nothing is great for your memory. Quietly resting for 10 minutes, after you learn something will help you remember and help you create more detailed memories. [10]

                What we do minutes after we learn something new has a significant impact on how well we retain the new information. In another study, it didn’t matter what you did after you learned something new, as long as you weren’t distracted by outside factors. In other words, you could be thinking of your day, making a grocery list, or thinking of a story. In either case, wakeful rest for a period of 10 minutes helped the brain process and consolidate your memories so that you were better able to recall the information at a later date. [11]

                Conclusion

                You don’t have to spend a dime on cocktails and supplements promising a quick boost to your memory power. There is very little conclusive scientific evidence suggesting supplements will help improve the memories of healthy individuals–not for Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B, fish oils, Vitamin D, Folate or other supplements claiming they a secret formula.

                There are far cheaper and more effective ways to boost your memory: exercise, rest, eat well, learn, love, laugh and relax. Who wouldn’t want that prescription?

                More Resources About Boost Brain Power

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

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