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College Life

5 Genius Dorm Room Items To Battle Procrastination

Ayusha Mahajan

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Item plugged into a laptop to battle procrastination

“There’s no time like the present” is a popular saying that directs wandering eyes towards the beauty that lies in front of them. Many college students, however, conveniently choose to forget that the present is a temporary space in time whenever an assignment, project, or midterm is due. A giant wall of available entertainment and previously neglected (and irrelevant) tasks thunderously rises from the ground. Why finish that final term paper when all the stationery you haven’t touched needs to be sorted? Dorm items that can help you stay on top of your work are essential to battle procrastination.

A 2007 study reported that 80 to 95 percent of college students engage in procrastination, with around 50 percent considering it problematic to their everyday life. And it was found that on average, more males procrastinate than females.

According to a survey conducted by Rowan University, students with lower external motivation are more likely to procrastinate, and those with internal motivation are more likely to complete tasks regardless of their level of engagement with them.

The origins of such behavior ought to be pursued and remedied, then, through psychological coping mechanisms and supplementary dorm room items. The only thing better than knowing what to do to get over that wall of distraction is having the right tools to make your way to the other side.

These are 5 dorm items you can use to battle procrastination:

An adhesive whiteboard sticker

Research shows that procrastination is often a result of being confronted by meaningful tasks, rather than laziness. Students might spend an unnecessary amount of time examining their physical, creative, or logical competence in their engagement with a task and ultimately put it off. As a result, not only do they underestimate their potential and perform poorly, but they also lose productivity.  A study conducted in 2016 also concluded that focusing on goal pursuit and the process of achieving a goal helps increase focus and therefore reduces productivity.

Breaking down, planning, and tracking a mountainous goal can therefore be beneficial to ensuring a better outcome.

Writing out the various nuts and bolts associated with the final product will help you visualize the task and prepare for it mentally. An adhesive whiteboard sticker is an especially effective dorm room item as it is portable, does not require a hook, and can be as large as preferred without taking up too much space when not on the wall.

These window-sized stickers can be used to write out deadlines, schedules, syllabi, or steps to implementing a term-long project. They can also be used for daily purposes, such as to-do lists or quickly jotting down phone numbers lest they get lost.

A lockbox with a timer

Procrastination and distraction are like two peas in a pod, with one enabling the other. A study conducted by Wendelien Van Eerde notes the role of voluntary distraction as a coping mechanism to “escape emotional distress” in favor of short-term reward. Since these are considered activities that one “regrets having done afterwards, but [were] not on top of a priority list,” boxes that lock items of distraction in for a specific duration of time may help.

Other dorm room items such as console controllers, speakers, various snacks, or any item not essential to the task at hand can be locked away for an hour or two. This will leave the procrastinator with no choice but to begin their task, under the knowledge that their items won’t be available to them for that duration. Out of sight, out of mind.

A digital coin box

A second useful item that complements distraction-avoidance is long-term rewards. Immediate rewards such as entertainment and free time are always available — however, once the full task is complete, there is no congratulatory reinforcement of accomplishment. It would be good practice, then, to build up to a greater reward as time progresses when tackling a big project. 

With each smaller task successfully completed, a certain amount of money can be dropped into a digital coin box. The more time or energy-consuming the task, the more money can be dropped in. Alternatively, the higher the amount of productivity in relation to hours put into the task, the greater the amount can be.

Coin boxes or containers are already typical essential items within a dorm room; one that counts your money and lets you know exactly how much time you’ve invested in your work could be even more useful.

You put in more effort than was required? Drop some coins in. The task was harder than you expected and took longer? Acknowledge that work. When the goal is finally complete, you can treat yourself to an item of luxury or practicality that would not usually be considered necessary to own. This positive reinforcement can help summon up some motivation when it is not readily available.

A photo frame of someone you look up to

Photo frames are effective in serving purposes involving sentiment, especially when one is away from home. Research shows that the “Hawthorne effect,” a psychological effect involving being observed, has an effect on our behavior. The human brain is wired to be sensitive to facial features, such as the presence of eyes. This awareness, also called “gaze detection,” can alter the way we behave when we think we’re being passively observed.

Therefore, it would be effective to keep a picture of someone you look up to — perhaps a family member, person of interest, figure of authority, or famous celebrity — on your desk or workstation. This will convince your subconscious that you must not let them down.

Photo frames are a common and affordable item present in dorm rooms already. Such a practice may be especially helpful considering the tendencies to remain indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, or when access to a quiet public place is not available.

Noise-cancelling headphones

College dorms can be noisy and riddled with distractions that “I swear I’ll just take a minute to check out.” Be it friends, notoriously loud fire alarms two buildings away, music, or even faraway sounds of airplanes or construction, procrastination is best avoided when it is not fed with momentary loss of focus.

Noise-cancelling headphones paired with looped sounds of nature or soothing music can help maintain the focus you need to get a task done. Internal sources of distractions like other tasks, commitments, and responsibilities may also make their way into our periphery and demand our attention.

Use the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a useful way of tackling task-completion in the face of distractions. It involves immersing oneself in a task for 25 minutes, all the while writing down any present distractions on a piece of paper and taking a short break.

Once each 25-minute task is done, a checkmark is put on a piece of paper. Every five 25-minute sessions, a longer break can be taken. In this way, the tasks that have accumulated towards a deadline can be completed with full focus.

Procrastination is confronted by every student at least once during their college experience. While the mindset to avoid or diminish its effects cannot be materialized and purchased, certain dorm room items may do wonders in taking that first step.

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College Life

The State of College Football in 2020

Ian Wentzlaff

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Football player carrying the ball and running towards the end zone as the other team hustles to catch up to him

This college football season feels different than any that have come before. Perhaps it is the fact that teams in various conferences experienced a staggered start to the season. Another explanation is that the typically packed stadiums are half-empty, with fans being socially distanced inside. Certainly, the black cloud of COVID-19 looms over college football.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out earlier this year, fans and players begrudgingly relinquished their sports seasons. Several professional leagues, including the NBA and NHL, successfully crowned a champion, finishing their seasons off in a fashion that satisfied even the most die-hard fans.

However, doubt still lingered as to whether football season would kick off as normal. Other sports were able to successfully finish their seasons, but football would attempt to start and finish a season without batting an eye. Another wrench in the works: college teams would still need to travel in order to play against each other. The NBA, NHL, and MLB were able to significantly mitigate the risk to players and coaches by moving all teams to one or two “bubble” locations where they could isolate from the virus.

The decision to hold a 2020 college football season was met with mixed reviews inside and around the NCAA, the governing agency of college athletics. Certain conferences opted to sit out the entire season, citing that the revenue simply did not justify the health risk to everyone involved. However, after several weeks of sitting out, some of those conferences decided to take part in the season anyway.

A football laid down so the grips are facing up, a white stripe on both ends of the ball
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This indecisiveness caused many schools to play an odd number of games. Currently, the NCAA is 5 weeks into the season. Certain teams, such as the Alabama Crimson Tide, have played in all 5 weeks. Others have only played one game so far, and others still are determined to place the health and safety of their universities over the opportunity to make money. 

An argument has been made that the risk the virus poses to young people is minuscule, and the economic opportunities provided by NCAA football is sorely needed now. However, consider the fact that young people can still die from this virus. In fact, unlike the NBA, which did not record a single positive test throughout the bubble, college football players have already lost their lives to the virus.

Adding to the concern, universities across the country are reporting new COVID-19 cases every day. Many of the nation’s top football programs have cases numbering in the thousands on their home campuses. Still, the NCAA is willing to gamble on the lives of young people.

This is certainly not a new development for the NCAA, which uses an unpaid labor force of student athletes to generate massive revenue every year. Additionally, some programs made it clear that if their players opted out of this season, they were off the team. Subsequently, many players decided to return to the field, more afraid of losing their scholarship and education than of contracting the virus.

Now, as the 2020 college football season approaches its halfway point, many still wonder if it will reach its intended conclusion. The impact of the virus has of course been felt on the playing field. Teams have been forced to resort to backups more often as their starters have fallen ill; one game even had to be cancelled when Vanderbilt could not field a healthy team of the 53 players required by conference regulations. 

Zoomed out, aerial shot of the Rose Bowl Stadium
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Across the programs of the county, dozens of players and coaches have caught the virus. Even the sports’ biggest icons have not been immune. Nick Saban, the head coach and architect of Alabama’s recent dynasty, tested positive just earlier this month. All of these players and coaches missing games has led to one of the most improbable starts to the season, where a major upset seems likely to happen every week.

Still, what will it take for an improbable end to this season of college football? When will the NCAA admit it has made a grave mistake by risking the lives of so many people, especially when most are unpaid, poor college kids? The long road to winning a championship is paved with the hardships that have been overcome along the way, but perhaps now is the time to stop and rest, to recover before any more lives are unnecessarily lost for the sake of sports.

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College Life

Five Easy Ways to Reap the Benefits of Virtual College Tours

Abrar Shah

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Man in a suit giving a virtual college tour

Even with a ranging pandemic dictating the American way of life, little can stop the desires of up-and-coming college students to know more about their schools. This opens up one of the few possible alternatives: virtual college tours. Whether you are on a budget, don’t have the means to travel extensive distances, or simply do not want to travel in this climate, virtual tours may be the gateway to help you determine how to push through your higher education. 

  1. Snatch the opportunity to see what classroom and building interiors are like

Unlike middle school and high school tours, college tours do not offer visitors the liberty of seeing a class in action or even allow them to see a classroom at all. Virtual tours, however, allow you to see the inside of nearly any building you may be using on-campus, depending on how much coverage the particular school decided to allow for their virtual tours. For some people, this alone is a game-changer, so make sure you exercise this opportunity to the fullest.

  1. With classes now almost exclusively online at many schools, see if you can sit in on on

This is something you should check in on with school representatives if possible. Many campuses across the country are now using Zoom or other distance-learning methods, and it is very likely that you may be allowed to join one as a silent observer. Of course, this can only be discovered when you enquire about it, but many schools will be happy to allow prospective students a front-line look into their academics. I recall quite well that in the various incarnations of grade school, there would be prospective parents sitting in the classroom for some classes.

Since actual campus tours wouldn’t allow that, it should be much easier to do it virtually. 

  1. See if you can simulate a day at school

You will often understand a concept better through practice, so take advantage of simulating a day on campus and determine whether you can truly see yourself existing on the campus for however many years you intend to be there. Timing is everything and this can be a useful way to determine how much you will have to move around on any given day. 

  1. You can always decide to visit later if you feel that it’s worth it

Arguably the best advantage of virtual college tours is that you can do it within the comfort of your own home, while also being able to avoid the potentially lackluster in-person experience. Virtual tours will allow you to decide whether it’s worth the time and money to visit a certain school of your interest in-person to get the full authentic feel you may need to complete your decision. Additionally, virtual tours will also allow you to determine whether you will \need to keep a school in mind for the future; take advantage of the process of elimination whenever possible, especially if you are the kind of person that applies to many schools.

  1. Discover what matters to you (and ask all the questions)

The ability to see more means that you now have a reason to ask more questions than you would if you were actually on campus, since you would most likely be in a group and tours have strict timing and schedules. Do you need space to throw your javelins or do you derive satisfaction from simply watching basketball games?

You can approach your virtual tour as you see fit and you’ll very likely think of things you probably never would have ended up asking in person. When it comes to the college process, your genuine interest in a school does make a difference. However, you need to be very careful to not make your interest appear artificial, as people who spend their days handling college admissions will be quick to figure this out.

At the end of the day, you’re in charge of what you believe is best for you, and being prepared for what may lay ahead is only beneficial. Do not let something take more time than it needs to and swipe away opportunities now that you may not be able to get again later.

Perhaps it is the virtual tour that can justify your dream school or turn one that never was into one. Exercise your options effectively and you will reward yourself with the place you’re meant to be in going forward.

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College Life

5 Secrets to be Successful in Online Zoom Lectures

Mariah Olmstead

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A girl wearing blue jeans and a black sweater, sitting by a window attending a live zoom lecture
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Many colleges and universities around the United States have reopened for the new academic year, but several still operate online. Zoom is one of the more popular platforms these days for online classes and is preferred by professors as it is more user-friendly.

As most college students know by now, lectures are sometimes tedious in person, but they can be just as boring online.

Here are 5 tips to help students focus and be successful in online Zoom lectures. 

1) Have a cup of coffee, tea, or water 

Lectures can often be a snoozefest, especially when they’re early in the morning and you don’t have to go through the motions of dressing up and traveling to a physical class. Waking up with a refreshing cup of coffee, tea, or water can help you keep yourself awake during these lectures. However, take care that you do not drink too much, or you may find yourself running to the bathroom during class and missing important information! 

2) Use pen and paper

Even in-person lectures require some set of writing utensils to take those important notes and ensure you don’t miss out on any information. So why would it be any different online? While taking notes on a laptop can be quicker, most professors on Zoom calls want to see their students’ faces, and professors can notice when students aren’t paying attention, even online. 

A woman wearing a white shirt and black jacket sitting at a table on a laptop.
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3) Study in a quiet environment

Being able to focus during lectures is important, so making sure everything is quiet can make for an easier time during class. Of course, noise and distractions are hard to completely avoid, with everyone’s home lives being different, but try to have as quiet of an environment as you can. 

4) Prepare books and readings

Most professors will assign a reading assignment for the next class so that students can discuss it, or so the professor can elaborate on it more. Having the reading or book with you and ready for class is beneficial if the professor asks you a question regarding the book or reading, or if the professor breaks people up into groups to discuss the reading. Having the reading by your side is great for quick references and to show the class you know your stuff. 

A girl wearing a white shirt and watch, laying in her bed on a laptop.
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5) Use a comfy chair

Lectures are long, and sitting all day can strain your back. Having a chair that is properly adjusted and comfortable will help ensure that you aren’t squirming or moving a lot during class. It also helps reduce strain so you can focus better. While a good chair can be expensive, it helps in the long run with comfort, as well as avoiding RSI and injuries from prolonged sitting. 

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