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Entries from October 1, 2009 - October 31, 2009


What Google Wave Means for Students

Ride the wave.

A week or two after its first big beta release of invites, people are still chomping at the bit for invites. (I don't have any, sorry!) While everyone is waiting to jump on board, the real question remains: what does this mean for students? Will this completely revolutionize student communication? Or will Google Wave just be a flash in the pan? Is it better for organization, communication or both?

This post will discuss Google Wave, its shortcomings and its possible applications to student life.

Click to read more ...


6 Ways to Ace Your Next Test

It's midterm season.

As I sit down to write this post, I just finished an Anthropology test. I nailed it. Like, crushed it. No, that doesn’t even do it justice. I took it out behind the classroom, beat to a pulp, revived it lovingly, apologized sincerely, and then beat it again even worse.

Now, I don’t pretend to be the smartest kid in the room, or to be, like, super-awesome at taking tests, but I realized today that I’ve figured out a few ways to make tests both less stressful, and more successful. So I’ll share a couple.

Before the Test

Study Out Loud

Everyone learns differently – some learn by reading, some by listening, and some by doing. If you read your notes aloud to yourself as you’re studying, you’re actually doing all three. You’re reading your notes, hearing yourself say the words, and actively reading out loud. It’s incredible how much more you’ll retain, and be able to recall, just by reading your notes to yourself or a friend.


You’re not going to need to know every single morsel of information that you’ve covered since the last test, and odds are you’re not going to be able to even if you try. So don’t try. At the beginning of your studying, go through everything you’ve learned and figure out what you’re definitely not going to need to know. Cross it out, burn it, get rid of it; make sure all that stuff isn’t in your way, and isn’t wasting time that should be spent studying important stuff.

Sleep is Victory

You need sleep in order to do well on your test. In fact, you need sleep more than you need to re-read the textbook for the 43rd time. Make sure you get at least six hours of sleep before a test, even at the expense of a little bit of studying - Here’s why.

During the Test

Answer Everything the First Time

Don’t leave blanks as you go through your test. Answer every single question, even if you have no idea. Circle that question so you can go back to it, but make sure you answer it. One, that gives you a shot at guessing right if you run out of time. Two, you’ll be shocked at how often you’re right on your gut-check guess.


After you’ve finished the test, go through and take it again. Seriously. Don’t just check your answers, actually take the exam again – this’ll make it more clear when you’ve put a wrong answer, or accidentally misread a question, because you’re not likely to do it twice in a row. Don’t look at your answers until you’ve newly answered the question, and then see if they match.

Don’t Overthink

I can’t tell you how many people I know who have changed right answers to wrong ones, just because they’re freaking out about it. If you’re sure of an answer, go with that! Your first instinct is almost always smarter than your second one, so don’t second-guess things you’re confident about. Spend that time instead trying to figure out the “I don’t even know what this word means” questions. Which are fun.

Tests are easy. But we make them hard by studying too much of the wrong thing, waiting too long to do it, and panicking over and over during the test until our pencil is mashed and we’re openly weeping. Awkward. With these steps, you’ll be a little more on top of your game.

What’s your best “rock the pants off my next test” tip?


How Many Schools View Wikipedia as a Marketing Tool?

Where's the college Wikipedia police? Photo by flickr user Steve Punter

Whilst browsing my own school's Wikipedia article, I noticed something interesting. During the section discussing LMU's limited Greek system, I found these sentences:

There are non-registered and un-recognized groups that exist on campus and are NOT affiliated with LMU or any of its departments. Any group that claims it is a part of LMU has no validity unless registered through Student Leadership & Development. More information can be found at

The statements in these sentences are true. They don't, however, belong on our school's Wikipedia article and were quite obviously added by someone working at the school. (While it's not outright forbidden, it's usually considered bad form to edit an article of something that you are personally a part of.) This person also is clueless to proper Wikipedia formatting.

Here, someone at LMU has taken it upon themselves to remind any reader of the Wikipedia article that unsanctioned fraternities are not associated with the university.

How Many Schools are Doing This?

So the question is: how many schools are doing this? How many of them have realized that their Wikipedia article is better marketing than a Princeton Review profile is?

After doing some more research, it appears that poorly veiled Wikipedia entries are only from second-tier universities. Loyola Marymount only has a 1:1 ratio of references per page of text. Pepperdine keeps their article pristine and well-cited at a 2.5:1 ratio. (Curses!) The Notre Dame page has nearly 200 references (4:1 ratio)! 

The Effects

While the repercussions of editing out any information are not huge currently, they have recently become a bigger deal. Two years ago, a tool was released that tied Wikipedia edits to companies and organizations via their IP addresses. There was a kerfuffle about the CIA editing pages like Ahmadinejad's. Chances are, there will not be a huge fallout from a university caught editing their own Wikipedia page.

But the effects of this dishonesty will slowly start to creep up to them. Just as cigarette companies of yore were unable to squelch information about shady dealings and the lethal effects, so too will universities be unable to Ctrl+Z their mistakes.

Does your university or college edit their own Wikipedia page?


Keep Your Cheap Thrift Store Costume Classy

The class week has already started -- did you forget you've got an H-day party to attend this Friday? Luckily, a thrift store can be your quick one-stop-shop for an original costume -- a cheap costume, might I add. The SF Chronicle brought a group of costume designers to a Goodwill to prove it. 

Their most important tip is to "make it your own:" 

So you want to be a female bridge officer from the original Star Trek series. But where in a thrift store are you going to find a dress with that exact cut, that slanted neckline and that arrow-shaped badge? "If it brings the image to mind, that's good enough," said [Julie Bertucci, pictured right], who made it work with a donated 60s style loose-sleeved dress, shiny red boot tops and a piece of paper cut into the shape of the franchise's familiar icon. And if something doesn't work one way, try it another. Bertucci found a red jacket for our Michael Jackson costume, but the outside didn't have the right sheen. So she turned it inside-out. And there was the King of Pop. 

They also make a good point about wigs: "If there's one new item that'll take your costume from dress-up to change-up, it's a wig..." A wig is probably worth buying new and making the extra stop for. 

Check out all of their tips at the article from last week, but don't miss the gallery of their crew's thrift store combos for a little inspiration. 


Use Snow Days as a Freebie and Get Ahead

Most people love snow days. And for those that don't, this article from Lifehacker may help you forget you're even swallowed up in your apartment or dorm. There are some tips that'll help you stay connected with your work and being adept at how your school handles such things.

Prepare Your Workflow for a Snow Day (Lifehacker)

The article above was geared for people who have actually jobs. While students don't necessarily have "real world" jobs, our workload as students can be likened to that of a real job. So, one thing that would be applicable to students that wasn't talked about in the article was using the day to catch up or get ahead.

A snow day is awesome for catching up because you don't have deal with any other distractions (save a roommate with a WOW addiction who's allergic to headphones). It's just you and the textbook, screen, or sketchpad.


Blackboard Week Wrap-up

Thanks everyone for participating in Blackboard Week and leaving your comments about our ideas. It was a big success in our book.

Traffic was way up throughout the week and we got some pretty good feedback from our ideas. Blackboard likes it, too. We'll be doing more features like this in the future!

Here are the posts if you missed them:

What features would you like to see in the future?


Featured Blogs of the Week

Fall Memory by flickr user Indy Kethdy

StudentBloggers and HackCollege have teamed up to bring you the best in student blogging each week. Here are some featured posts from the last seven days.

Life is all about competition and sometimes we shy away from confrontation to be more comfortable. [The Spinks Blog] tells us why it's a good idea to embrace competition.

The old adage "practice makes perfect" is lost on many people. [StudyHacks] gives us an insight into the fine art of practicing to make yourself better at something.

[Good Girl Gone Blog] shares a night walk she had through some nice pictures.

Although it’s weird to think that anything good can come from the H1N1 pandemic, [students for global health equity] shows us how disease prevention is showing other positive effects in Bolivia through a TIME article.

Are you a student and do you have a blog? Get added to our directory and you might get featured! Leave your blog URL and the name of the school you attend in the comments.


Free Tickets to the 140conf in Los Angeles

Calling all students at LMU, UCLA, USC and Pepperdine! If you're at all interested in Twitter or the "real-time Web," the 140conf just informed us that they are giving 500 passes to students.

Grab yours here.