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5 Common and Helpful Tips to Spruce Up Your College Application

5 Common and Helpful Tips to Spruce Up Your College Application

Every college career starts out with an application, and applying to college can be both exciting and scary as the applicant competes with others for a limited number of spots. The applicant will want their application to stand out from among the rest, which means that a lot of thought and effort must go into crafting it. While each school will have its own criteria for assessing applicants, it is still possible to improve an application so as to maximize the applicant’s chances of being chosen; factors like correctly timing the application and researching the institution can greatly affect an individual’s prospects. Below are a few bits of advice for successfully applying to a college.

1. Write an Excellent Application Essay

In other words, applicants should avoid writing the safe and generic essays that admissions officers see on a daily basis. They will need to be creative and original; most importantly, the applicant will need to reveal something about themselves that sets them apart from their competition. The admissions staff will want to know how the applicant thinks as well as how they handle certain situations. The application essay should be expressive of the individual’s own thought process and ideas, and it is best to have it proofread by an English teacher or someone with strong English language skills to eliminate any errors. Applicants should remember that the admissions officers want to know about them, their thoughts and ideas; any editorial alterations to the essay should be minimal. Applicants should note that admissions staff are experienced at ferreting out work written by others.

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2. Apply Early

Admissions departments at many schools report having to cope with a slew of applications on the deadline day, which makes it difficult for them to single any one student out from the rest. By sending in an application early, a student can separate themselves from the pack and signal that they are serious about attending the school.

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3. Avoid Ignoring Clearly-Stated Instructions

Admissions staff may take this as a sign that an individual is unprepared for the complexities of college life. Students often fill out online forms incorrectly because they have failed to thoroughly read instructions; this makes the work of reading their application more difficult. Other signs that a student is unable or unwilling to heed instructions come in the form of asking questions when the answers have already been given or are readily available on the school’s website. College life requires a certain amount of independence and self-guided learning, so applicants should read materials carefully and strive to find answers themselves before needlessly spamming a school’s admissions department.

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4. Use Letters of Recommendation Carefully

Applicants should ensure that the person referring them is capable of expressing their endorsement properly and has only positive things to say about them. Also, it is best to use a letter of recommendation only if its contents are different from those of the application essay. Applicants should note that the source of the letter is sometimes as important as its contents—a recommendation from a teacher in whose class the applicant has performed well is not quite as impressive as one from the teacher of a class that they struggled to pass. Just like the application essay, letters of recommendation should feel heartfelt and honest.

5. Avoid Being Disrespectful to Admissions Staff

While this may seem obvious, applying to colleges is more stressful for some than for others; not everyone is capable of managing that stress well. It is important that applicants avoid letting their emotions overcome common sense and derail their attempts to get into a school. They should always be well-mannered and courteous to admissions staff.

The most important thing to remember when applying to college is to always be honest and open. The goal is to find a college that is a good fit for the applicant, and this cannot be done if they are not candid and forthcoming.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

If you spend any time at all researching life hacks, you’ve probably heard of the famous Pomodoro Technique.

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference. But if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple:

For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.

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You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How the Pomodoro Technique boosts your productivity

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly:

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.

Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.

The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.

You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

Successful people who love it

Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog is a fan of the system, and has compiled a great list of Apple-compatible Pomodoro tools.

Before he started using the technique, he said,

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“Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”

Another proponent of the Pomodoro Technique is Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Shellenbarger tried out this system along with several other similar methods for time management, and said,

“It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”

Any cons for the Pomodoro Technique?

Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[1]

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[2]

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“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

Conclusion

One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone. So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this article: How to Make the Pomodoro Technique More Productive

Reference

[1] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
[2] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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