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30 Best Blogs for Teenagers – The Ultimate 2021 Guide

Are you having trouble finding blogs that are worth reading? We’ve got you covered! Check out these awesome blogs for teenagers.

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Everyone is on social media these days! Being an influencer is becoming a normal job for people who want to inspire others by sharing their lives on the internet.

As human beings, we are naturally curious about common topics like college life, fitness, or even love advice. 

Blogs are one of the ways people can share their advice on the internet and, of course, influence other people’s behaviors. 

Here at BLENDtw, we’re bringing you the best 30 blogs for teenagers! Their content is a mix of various topics, from college advice to travel experience. These blogs will help you navigate life more easily and look at everything with a critical eye.

In This Post:

1. TeensGotCents

 Eva Baker is a finance guru, and through her blogs, she teaches us, mortals, how to take a better hold of our finances. She has picked up the best tips and habits from trial and error. 

TeensGotCents is the place you should go if you want to work toward your goals without being completely broke.

2. Just So Elina 

From Australia, Elina is a writer and chronic illness warrior that allows everyone to take a look into her mind. On her blog, she shares her advice on wellness and living with a chronic illness, a topic that is not commonly discussed. 

Her main goal is to share her life, and she hopes that everyone who reads her blog will take something from it.

3. Anxious Lass

Somerset blogger Kelly Jean creates content that’s focused on mental health, specifically social anxiety. 

Kelly was inspired to start her blog after hours of scouring the web and finding only articles that seemed to be written by a robot rather than a human. 

She started her blog with the goal of being relatable so her readers don’t feel alone.

4. We the Urban

This blog quickly got its fame in 2009 when Tumblr was at its peak, and now it’s more famous than ever with more than 3 million followers on Instagram. 

With its trendy content and motivating vibe, its main goal is to inspire and empower today’s generations with posts that push boundaries and make you think of the world in a different way.

5. Dan Flying Solo

 This guy is crazy and a genius. Dan is a Londoner who started this blog as a newsletter for his family to keep updated on his world travels after he quit his job as a restaurant manager in 2014 to follow his love to Bali. 

At the time, he didn’t imagine his blog would grow to a million views per year. Now, as an ambassador for the famous travel guide Lonely Planet, he shares his experiences as a traveler of the world and shows us how life can sometimes take you to unexpected places.

6. Barnes & Noble Teen Blog

As a reader myself, I think it’s awesome that one of the biggest libraries on the internet has a blog. However, even if you do not share my passion for reading, this blog is perfect for you too. 

It includes podcasts, interviews with famous bestselling authors, and all resources for a teenager to avoid getting bored — you can switch those two hours on TikTok for a good YA podcast.

7. Teen Thoughts

We are the next generation that will be in charge of the world; however, it is no secret that the youngsters before us are the future too, and with social media being so ingrained in our reality, it is time for a reality check. 

We need a space where we can express ourselves without the fear of being subjected to a specific social trend, which is why Teen Thoughts’ goal is to give you a voice, to give you a space where your thoughts can be expressed, and to give you a safe haven to be yourself.

8. This Teenage Life

This youth empowered podcast/blog is a space where you can hear stories about what it feels like to grow — to not say, “I am the only person in this world that has this problem,” and to feel heard within a community. 

This Teenage Life gives you the opportunity to hear perspectives about common topics from other teens and to belong to a community.

9. Capturing Life on Camera

Natalie Park is a high school senior, traveler, and writer. She shares photos of her life in NYC that will convince you that living in the Big Apple is the best idea you ever had. With her dreamy aesthetics, you can almost feel New York at your fingertips.

10. Joli House

Knitwear designer and blogger Lily brings you everything you need to know about knitting content. With her own patterns on sale, she’ll teach you that knitting is an experience in itself and that it could be your new fall hobby. 

Her trendy patterns and dedicated blog posts clearly display that knitting is a ball in the park, so hurry up and buy some needles! You have knitting to do.

Related: 65 Best Dates for Teenagers – The Ultimate Guide

11. Sea of Shoes

Dallas blogger Jane Aldridge created this blog to share her love for all things vintage and as a tribute to her love of extreme shoes. 

However, since 2007, the blog has grown into its own brand, with Jane collaborating with brands like Gucci and Marc Jacobs. 

If you need an outfit that will defy the border between vintage and modern, Sea of Shoes is right up your alley.

12. Life Unfiltered with Alexa Curtis

On her blog, lifestyle influencer Alexa Curtis discusses her feelings on topics that she encountered as a teen, such as mental health, handling social media, body image, and other sensitive topics. 

Her content is focused on talking about challenges young people go through, and she provides the stories that come from experiences that they may need to navigate day by day.

13. The Teen Runaway

If you are as clueless as I am when navigating fashion, this blog is for you. With her beauty and fashion advice, and with experience such as being part of the press at fashion week, Lauren’s tips are invaluable. 

She shares her advice on how to be a fashionista like Barbie and how to not look like a clown when you brave a full face of makeup.

14. LoveSpunk

Angela describes herself as that awkward and shy kid in the back of the class; however, I find myself thinking she is completely endearing and a genius fashion connoisseur. 

She has her own portfolio on the blog where she showcases her work in fashion, and her videos are filled with content like “sewing 5 dresses in 5 days,” which I find mind-blowing because I can’t sew for the love of my cat!

15. SchoolHabits

This blog is entirely focused on teaching you how to learn. Kind of confusing, right? 

However, its resources and services will help you figure out what your best learning style is, and why it’s important to find your particular style. Give it a go. You won’t regret it.

16. Save the Student

Money is what every college student worries about because the amount of debt that is left after you finish school is astronomical! 

But Save the Student will save you from paying this amount in the future, and it provides you with tips on how to invest and protect your money, so it’s a no-brainer why you should visit this blog.

17. Sincerely Students

Not all of us love school and studying, and that’s OK, because Ellie, the writer of Sincerely Students, shares her advice on how to be more productive in school, how to find school coupons, and she even has a section on how to help our community! 

18. Celeste Lili

This blogger is an undergrad at UC Davis, and she’s sharing her advice on all things a first-generation student might go through. 

As a freelance SEO writer and content creator, she shares her advice on the marketing world, and also on how to navigate college if you are the first one to go to school.

19. Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen is a best-selling author on subjects like happiness, habits, and human nature. On her blog, she shares her advice on the pursuit of happiness and her personal experience in finding it. 

As one of the contributors to the happiness factor, we can assure you she is the one you go to if you feel unmotivated or uninspired, and with her witty humor, she will make you feel like you are talking to a friend.

20. The Fit Habit

Being a strong, independent woman is hard. Creating habits that are productive but at the same time good for your health is something our generations are struggling with more and more. 

That is why CarenHigh Street Beauty Junkie, the writer of The Fit Habit, shares her advice on living a happy, healthy, and long life, and how to make time for things that make you feel good.

Related: 70 Cheap and Fun Date Ideas for Teens

21. High Street Beauty Junkie

If you want to look good when you apply makeup and look like the people on reality shows, where their hair is all shiny and their makeup looks good 24/7,this blog is your first step. 

Charli, a U.K. blogger, shares her tips on all things beauty and hairstyle and gives a look into what’s going on in her life.

22. Jenn (across the pond)

Writing from Denmark, Jenn gives a look at what it’s like studying abroad and her adventures and misadventures. 

Jenn is from Colorado, and she shares what it’s like being out of her comfort zone in a whole different culture, and she gives advice on how to manage life in another country. 

If you are thinking of studying abroad next semester and want to see the world, this is a great blog for you!

23. Student Minds Blog

This blog is one of the greatest in terms of mental health and university life in the U.K. 

That being said, it is a place where you can read and share experiences and get a sense that you’re not alone and that mental health is important.

24. Jessica Slaughter

As a kind of journal, Jessica shares tips about all kinds of topics, from studying to brand reviews. You won’t get bored reading through her wacky adventures and experiences.

25. Dani Dearest

A graduate of California, Dani tells us everything there is to know in her mind. From tips on how to take care of yourself to organization and planning, she writes everything there is to know so that you can be an organizational and self-care queen.

26. Tolmeia Gregory

As you may know, a climate emergency has arisen, and it is on a critical level. However, what can you do to make a difference? 

As a climate activist, Tolmeia will educate you on what it is that you can do to stop this emergency, and she’ll make you think about the what, why, and how on social issues.

27. Her Campus

A 100% women-owned company, Her Campus shares stories and advice from the perspective of a woman. As Harvard undergrads, they started this project due to the need for more feminine influences on campus. 

From there, it grew through various campuses across the U.S., and now it is one of the most influential media companies.

28. Broke Millennial

This blog started from a Krispy Kreme donut sale, and it has grown to be a financial advice blog for teens. 

She basically gives you the answer to every question — How do you pay your student loans? How to bare your financial soul to your partner? 

With this blog, you can go from flat-broke to financial guru!

29. College Cures

This blog is your go-to college guide. From parties and hangovers to tips on being productive with your studies, this blog makes your college experience stress-free and pain-free by giving you resources, tips, and advice to navigate college life better!

30. Spoon University

Are you a foodie? Maybe you don’t even know how to make a toast! Either way, this blog is for you! Spoon University’s main focus is to help you figure out how to handle your cooking at college. 

By providing you with easy and healthy recipes, you will get all your nutrients and avoid the Freshman 15.

Related: 15 Best Websites to Download Free College Textbooks Online

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College Life

30 Effective Study Motivation Tips – The Ultimate 2021 Guide

Having trouble getting back into the swing of studying as school starts? Check out these effective study motivation tips.

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Sometimes, no matter what you do, it can be hard to motivate yourself to study– especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now.

Whenever you’re feeling stressed, a little lazy, or disheartened, refer to these tips to give yourself the study motivation to do well this semester.

Article summary:

1. Make your notes aesthetically pleasing

If you put in some effort while taking notes, you’ll be much more willing to revisit them later. Try writing your notes out in fun colors and highlighting key words.

Or, if you’re like me and your handwriting is questionable, type them out during class and add underlines and images later.

Personally, I like to print them out and add flags and sticky notes with annotations. It helps me understand the material on a deeper level. 

2. Create a study schedule

Whenever I’m feeling stressed, I try to take a minute to slow down and organize my thoughts. I ask myself, what do I need to work on?

What tasks are the most pressing? Then, I start to write out a list in my planner and work on my calendar. Once you’ve organized your thoughts on paper, you’ll feel much better about the tasks ahead of you.

I suggest creating a work schedule to avoid procrastination. If you put in a little work each day and prioritize, you can accomplish your goals and then some. 

3. Study date with a friend

Now, this can either work really well or not at all, it depends on the friend. If you two are going to end up goofing around the whole time, maybe they’re not the friend you should be studying with.

But, you still want to make sure that your study partner is someone who lifts your mood and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

Otherwise, you’ll be bored out of your mind, and you’ll never want to study again.

I once took a very challenging bio class, so my friend and I set up study dates where we went over the material, made silly acronyms and came up with funny ways to memorize the information.

We learned a lot, had some fun studying and performed well on the tests. 

Related: 130 Most Amazing Motivational Study Quotes – The Ultimate Guide

4. Create a reward system

This is a fun one. Think about the total amount of work you need to complete. It can be your work for today, the week, the month, etc.

Now, split up that total into increments. For example, do you need to read a 400-page novel by next week? Give yourself a reward every 75 pages.

Go get a treat, plan some T.V. time, anything that works for you. It’ll ensure you get some brian breaks and motivate you to keep studying. 

5. Take breaks!

If you stress yourself out and tell yourself you need to study for ten hours straight, chances are that you’re not doing yourself any favors.

If you don’t give yourself any breaks, you’re going to exhaust yourself, and studying won’t be as effective as it should be.

Plus, your mood might tank, and it’s hard to study when you’re feeling low. Try taking a five minute break every thirty minutes. Or a ten minute break every hour.

Grab a snack, go on TikTok, meditate– whatever you need to keep yourself sane. 

6. Study a little bit each day 

This study motivation technique requires timeliness and devotion, but it will save you loads of time in the long run.

If you study for a class 20-30 min a day rather than cramming the few days before the test, you’ll be much better off.

Many psychology experiments support that this spread-out study technique leads to a better understanding of the material.

7. Make a vision board 

If you remind yourself why you’re studying and what goals you’ll achieve at the finish line, whether it’s tomorrow or 20 years from now, you’ll have more motivation.

The next time you have some downtime, make a vision board with some card board and magazine clippings. Or, I like to hop on Pinterest and work on some of my boards. Works every time. 

8. Enter a productive space

I mean this both literally and figuratively. Literally, place yourself in a space conducive to studying, like a library, an office, a quiet coffee shop, etc.

Sometimes I convince myself that studying in bed will be fine– it’s never as productive as it can be.

And, figuratively, create a productive space by turning off text notifications, don’t listen to music unless it doesn’t have lyrics, and so on.

9. Make flashcards

I’d probably fail all my classes if I didn’t make flashcards. I always make them when I need to memorize information or prepare for a presentation.

Grab some flashcards from a supply store, a few colorful pens for study motivation and get started.

Making flashcards is basically half the battle. It can be time consuming, yes, but when it’s time for your test, you’re more likely to remember the things you wrote down, the vocabulary you underlined, the diagrams you drew.

Then, of course, testing and repetition will help. Quiz yourself or a friend in the class. You’ll be an expert in no time. 

10. Try to boost your mood

It can be hard to study when you’re feeling down, stressed or tired. Some ways to try and snap out of it are to…

Go for a walk: Exercise releases endorphins, which can make you feel good. Afterward, you’ll feel energized and ready to take on the books

Find a change in scenery: Sometimes changing your surroundings is enough to press the reset button on your mood. Have you been in the house all day? Try studying outside. 

Make your favorite snack or drink: Taking some time for yourself by preparing a treat could be what you need. Get a caffeine boost from your favorite coffee or tea. Or, if you’re a little hangry, a snack could do the trick.

Related: 100 Motivational Quotes for Exams – The Student Guide

11. Study apps 

There are plenty of study apps that you can download on your phone to help you study. Apps like Quizlet are designed to help you organize your flashcards or find pre-made sets in your class topic.

Download Flora to keep a to-do list, and set study timers to motivate you to stay off your phone. There are plenty more apps to choose from that can act as study motivators. Thank goodness for technology!

12. Motivational quote 

This one has worked for plenty of my friends. When it’s the middle of the semester and you’re feeling burnt out, try finding a motivational quote to turn to.

Skim a list of motivational quotes and see what speaks to you. Check out our list of best motivational quotes to study here. 

You can make it your phone background, write it out when you’re feeling anxious, turn it into a wall decoration for your bedroom, etc.

Words have the power to calm us down or give us energy, so you should give this technique a try.

13. An organized space for an organized mind 

Even if you don’t study in your room, or even in your house, it can be a huge help to keep these spaces clean.

First of all, you’ll be able to find notes and study materials easily, as you’ll actually know where everything is. And second, a clean space can be comforting.

For me, I feel like I can’t think straight when I know my room is a mess.

14. Don’t compare yourself to others

Motivating yourself to study should be for you and nobody else. When you compare yourself to others, it can be counterproductive and even harmful to your self-esteem.

Your main goal should be to do your personal best. If you compare yourself to those who are performing better or worse than you, you may not be as motivated to work hard.

Study motivation should come from yourself!

15. Take some pressure off yourself

This one goes hand and hand with the above tip.

Too much pressure and stress can be debilitating. Make sure you’re putting your mental health first. Besides, a healthy mind is a productive one. 

16. Break down your to-do list

To-do lists can be daunting. Breaking down your tasks into smaller, manageable ones will help things feel much more doable.

You don’t want to overwork yourself and try to get too much done in one day, so spread those smaller tasks throughout your week.

17. Change things up

If you keep your study routine the same, you’ll get bored really quickly. Try using different study methods to keep things slightly more interesting.

Instead of just reading your notes, try making flashcards, quizzing a friend, doing practice problems, drawing diagrams, etc. There are so many different angles from which you can look at the material. 

18. Study in the daylight 

Studying inside, in the dark or away from a window can make your brain feel foggy. Do yourself a favor and get some sunlight.

It’s a great study motivation, can help you boost your energy, concentrate, think creatively and get better sleep later in the day.

19. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to clear your mind, alleviate stress and press the reset button. Find an app such as Smiling Mind, and follow along with one of their pre-recorded meditations.

You can do this daily before you start studying or whenever you feel that you need a break. I use this study motivation technique all the time when I need a recharge. 

20. Exercise in the mornings

This study motivation technique works really well for me. Even if I have to drag myself out of bed in the morning, I get a burst of energy after I exercise.

I’m so much more productive for the rest of the day. Try setting aside at least 30 minutes a day to get moving. Go for a walk, do some yoga. You’ll feel great and ready to take on your tasks for the day.

Related: 19 Best Final Exam Study Tips | Study Strategies for College Students

21. Play the right music

Music can be a great study motivator. It can increase your mood and your focus. But, it can also distract you as well. I like to listen to classical music when I study or write essays.

But sometimes I like to play my favorite pop songs when I’m working on a task that doesn’t require too much focus. 

22. Make it a creative project

One way to have fun studying while actually learning the material is to think about it creatively. Write a silly acronym. Come up with a song to remember the capitals of countries.

Write a short story relating to the material. Create a collage. These things can really help you memorize information and motivate you to study.

23. Stop negative talk

Don’t tell yourself that you’re bad at something or that you can’t do it. Seeing other people succeed or getting a low grade on a test can be really discouraging.

But don’t give up! Practice having a growth mindset. Tell yourself that you can improve if you put the work in. 

24. Work on your hardest tasks first

If you’re like me, you put off your most difficult tasks until the end of the day, and then you don’t have the energy to actually work on them as hard as you should.

It’s time to fix that. Move your most difficult, pressing tasks to the top of your to-do list. You’ll be able to work on it when you have the most energy. Then, things will only get easier throughout your day. 

25. Be consistent

Try studying at the same time every day. You’ll get into a groove, which can help you be more productive. Plus, this will keep other responsibilities from piling up, and you’ll likely have some extra time for yourself. 

26. Ask yourself why you want to study

If you figure out why you actually need to study, you’ll actually want to study. Is it for a good grade? So you can get a good job? Get into a good college?

Because you want to learn a new skill? Remind yourself of these goals for study motivation every time you’re feeling a little lazy. 

27. Figure out why you don’t want to study

If you get to the root of your lack of motivation, you might be able to figure out how to fix it. Are you too tired? Try to prioritize sleep.

Is the material uninteresting? Try some techniques to make studying more fun. 

28. Be reasonable

If you set impossible standards, you may be too hard on yourself if you end up not meeting them. Be reasonable with your goals.

And if you end up exceeding them, great! To start, don’t give yourself too many tasks to complete in one day. Having fun is important! 

29. Eat healthily

Eating junk food all the time can make you feel sluggish. Make sure to prioritize a well-balanced diet to ensure you have plenty of energy to get through the day.

And, preparing food for yourself is a great way to put yourself first and take your mind off of studying.

Need help preparing healthy college meals? Check out our ultimate post on college meal prep ideas here.

30. Make fun plans each weekend

If you have something to look forward to each weekend, you’ll be motivated to study and make it through each week.

Whether it’s a concert, lunch with a friend or a movie night by yourself, fun plans can act as study motivation. Plus, it’s important to have a life outside of school. 

If you need ideas on things to do, check our post of top 50 things to do when bored here.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it. 30 study motivation tips to get you through a tough day, week or semester. Use these tips to figure out what works best for you.

You can also watch the video below for some additional advice. Best of luck, and happy studying! 

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College Life

40 Best Books About Learning and Studying – The 2021 Student Guide

Are you trying to improve your learning style and study techniques? We got you. Check out this list of the best books about learning and studying.

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What makes a great student is more than just natural smarts. Good students know how to learn correctly and often perform specific habits to help them retain information.

You have to learn how to learn before you can be successful. I find this especially true whenever I start a new course.

I never know what to expect from a professor—how they’ll lead lectures or how much homework, quizzes or tests I’ll have.

So, I have to find the best way to learn for my classes. On a larger scale, becoming a good student is more than succeeding in individual classes.

Perfecting study habits like the specific way you color code your notes and structure your study guides comes with practice and advice from others.

Once you learn what works for you, learning becomes straightforward and fun. Personally, for me, books have been life-changing.

There are so many books out there that can help you make improvements to your learning style and study techniques.

That is why I have compiled the best list of books about learning and studying.

Whether you are trying to sharpen your study habits. improve your memory, or get inspiration, there is certainly one book on this list that will be perfect for you.

Table of Contents: 

Best Books on Learning

Make It Stick by Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel and Peter C Brown

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Successful learning is a practiced skill. In Make It Stick, the authors utilize the learning methods of an array of participants (such as students, doctors and more) to describe how we learn.

This book on learning is an enjoyable read and one that is backed up by research. This book is clear and concise in explaining exactly how the human brain learns and the best ways to improve our skills.

The authors argue that there are many bad ways to learn. Based on scientific research of how the brain learns, the authors describe the approaches we should take to capitalize on learning.

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How to Learn Almost Anything in 48 Hours by Tansel Ali

How to Learn Almost Anything in 48 Hours: The Skills You Need to Work Smarter, Study Faster, and Remember More!

Many times in our university career, we will need to learn things fast. Whether it be that we forgot about an upcoming quiz or missed a lecture and need to catch up on reading quickly, honing our speed-learning skills is a good tool to have in your belt.

Author Tansel Ali is a three-time Australian Memory Champion. In her book How to Learn Almost Anything in 48 Hours, Ali chronicles her secrets to quick learning.

Learn memory strategies like mind mapping and mnemonic devices. When I study for an exam and it comes time to take the test, I sometimes close my eyes and visualize a term I need the definition for based on how it appears on my study guide.

Practicing these habits can help improve your learning skills before an exam or lead to a generally improved memory!

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What Smart Students Know by Adam Robinson

What Smart Students Know: Maximum Grades. Optimum Learning. Minimum Time.

Smart students are successful students. I hear all the time how frustrating it is that someone's friend doesn’t have to study but achieves straight A’s in their classes.

That was never the case for me. To be a successful student, I had to become a smart learner. Some students perform better without putting in as much work.

This is due to how effective their learning is. Smart students, as Adam Robinson describes, are successful students because they learn efficiently.

Implementing the techniques Robinson recommends in his book on learning will take time, but with practice, it will become second nature. Putting in the work Robinson recommends will bring you to the core of learning, and pay off in the long term.

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Learning How to Learn by Barbara Oakley PhD and Terrence Sejnowski PhD

Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens

Though this book is a guide geared toward kids and teens, it warrants a spot on this list because learning how to learn is a skill to constantly improve, no matter your age.

I especially recommend a book that is geared toward a younger audience because these learning skills and habits can act as beginning steps. As a college student, I can say that our time is precious.

Turning to a book on learning such as this one is a practical way to begin improving your skills.

That is not to say that the techniques described are not grounded in science, because Oakley and Sejnowski do base their writing on neuroscience research. Try out the different learning strategies described until you find what works best for you!

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Uncommon Sense Teaching by Barbara Oakley PhD, Beth Rogowsky EdD, and Terrence Sejnowski PhD

Uncommon Sense Teaching: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn

From the same authors of Learning How to Learn comes a new book on learning.

In Uncommon Sense Teaching, Oakley and Sejnowski, along with Rogowsky, illustrate neuroscience-based techniques in understanding how students learn, and what methods of teaching compliments the best kind of learning.

As a student, there is much we can do to control how we learn. However, we also have to adapt to the changing teaching styles of our professors.

This book illustrates an insight into ways professors can teach to improve student comprehension. In college, we have to become mini masters on specific subjects every four months.

Many factors play in how well we comprehend the information we are overloaded with. This book illustrates how teachers can support their student’s learning styles, and how students can retain the information they learn.

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The Mind is Flat by Nick Chater

The Mind Is Flat: The Remarkable Shallowness of the Improvising Brain

Unlike the other books on learning, describing tangible habits to improve your learning skills, The Mind is Flat will completely deconstruct your perception of your own mind.

In this psychoanalytical investigation, Chater argues that our mind makes decisions and holds motivations based on past experiences.

While many believe the assumption that our subconscious is what guides our brain—that we have a mental depth that describes us to our core—Chater describes the opposite.

He says our brain is shallow—that we can improvise and change, because the brain improvises reactions and behaviors based on reconstructing experiences of our past.

I could never describe how eloquently Chater theorizes about the brain, only that mine exploded in considering his perceptions and research on the brain.

Essentially, Chater describes the brain for what it is, the science that makes us the way we are. While this read will not explicitly tell you the best way to study for your next test, it offers a much larger perspective to understanding our brain.

And that, of course, is the first step to improving our mind.

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Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Related: 140 Amazing Compare and Contrast Essay Topics – The Student Guide

Best Books on Study Habits

How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport

How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less

Not many professors, guidance counselors, academic advisors and tutors are going to advise that the best way to study is not to study hard, but to study smart.

However, Newport takes on this approach. To study successfully as a college student, Newport recognizes that all-nighters and cramming sessions are the norm.

But instead of drenching your study session in anxiety-induced coffee runs, Newport offers solutions on how to study smart and study easy.

I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, and that applies to studying. The tactics Newport describes in his book on learning shows how to maximize efficiency when studying to retain more information while also ensuring terrific performances on exams.

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The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell

The Study Skills Handbook (Macmillan Study Skills)

Stella Cottrell has over twenty years of experience working with students. In her book on learning The Study Skills Handbook, she outlines different ways students can improve on their study habits.

Cottrell understands that all students are different and will have different learning skills and ways they like to learn. As someone who always loved to draw and paint, I am a natural visual learner.

I can visualize my study guides and learn best from diagrams and charts, rather than reading a textbook for hours. Cottrell takes this approach in her book to describe ways each type of student can improve their grades through study.

The book is interactive, with helpful images, lists and questions to keep you motivated. It can either be read cover to cover, or pick and choose sections that make sense for you.

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Study Smart, Study Less by Anne Crossman

Study Smart, Study Less: Earn Better Grades and Higher Test Scores, Learn Study Habits That Get Fast Results, and Discover Your Study Persona

Anne Crossman advises students on the best ways to study in her book Study Smart, Study Less. This book chronicles easy-to-learn techniques for studying better, such as creating a study group.

In one of my history classes, we would play review games before a test. I would always review my study guide before these games hoping to win (because I’m that competitive).

In turn, I’ve retained a lot of information from this class based on this study strategy. Another great study strategy that Crossman recommends is discussion groups.

Getting together with another group of students outside class is a great way to solidify the information you are learning, and be more productive.

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How to Win at College by Cal Newport

How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country's Top Students

Another book by Cal Newport, How to Win at College is the best guide for an incoming first-year student. At this stage, you have no idea what to expect from your university or your courses.

But there’s some unspoken rule where you don’t want to have to admit that you have no idea what is about to happen.

To come into college with that extra bit of confidence in what to expect when you have no idea what is going on, this book on learning is the perfect guide.

Whether you’re one to always have a tedious plan, or a go with the flow kind of person, this book will prepare you on living your best and most successful college life.

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College Rules! by Sherrie Nist-Olejnik and Jodi Patrick Holschuh

College Rules!, 4th Edition: How to Study, Survive, and Succeed in College

This is another great book for first year students and doubles as a genius graduation gift! This book offers the cold, hard truth about what to expect in college.

By discussing the unofficial-official rules on how to conduct yourself in your classes, this book recalls how to maximize your college experience.

One of my favorite sections of this book is how to handle an upcoming exam week (or, stress week).

Usually, midterms and finals are when you’ll have a stress week—a time when all of your tests, papers, projects and presentations fall in the same week. Following the advice of the authors, you’ll be able to manage your stress week by prioritizing certain study habits.

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Study with Me by Jasmine Shao, Alyssa Jagan

Study with Me: Effective Bullet Journaling Techniques, Habits, and Hacks To Be Successful, Productive, and Organized - With Special Strategies for Mathematics, Science, History, Languages, and More

Improving your study habits occurs in more places than just before you study for an exam. Authors Shao and Jagan take on the perspective of improving your note taking style to better absorb information and study effectively.

Shao and Jagan utilize bullet journaling to improve note taking. I am well versed in bullet journaling—having kept one before and attended talks on the benefits of bullet journaling.

I’ve never considered this form of journaling as a way to take notes for class, however, Shao and Jagan explain how easy it is to adapt.

Bullet journaling is a way to organize your time and schedule through to-do lists, habit tracking, goal-setting, and more.

Expanding your bullet journal to note taking is a way to improve your organization and study skills all in one. This is a great book on learning for people who like to get creative when they study!

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Related: 20 Places Where You Can Buy Used Textbooks – The Ultimate Guide

Best Books on Memory Techniques

How to Remember Everything by Jacob Sager Weinstein, Odd Dot, Barbara Malley (Illustrator)

How to Remember Everything: Tips & Tricks to Become a Memory Master!

This memory book is intended to help kids learn to memorize dates, names and more. However, some of the strategies can be elevated to apply to improving our own memories!

I have a really bad memory and most of the time I forget what things I’ve done, like if I was there for a certain event or memory with friends.

This book on learning offers fun and unique memory games to help strengthen your memory. The book has fun illustrations and easy-to-explain steps to practice memorization skills. It’s the perfect book to help practice improving your memory in all areas.

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The Neuroethics of Memory by Walter Glannon

The Neuroethics of Memory: From Total Recall to Oblivion

When I am first trying to understand a concept, I always turn to the how and why. How do we create memories? How are memories stored?

Why can I remember my phone number, but not what I did for dinner last week? The Neuroethics of Memory is the perfect book to explain the science of memory.

Additionally, this book deals with the downfalls of memory and certain ethical lines of forgetting. This book is thought provoking and highlights the darker side of memory, when you really can’t remember.

This is a great read for college students interested in how memory can work for and against us.

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How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Toolkit by Dominic O’Brien

How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Toolkit: Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Remember Names, Words, Facts, Figures, Faces and Speeches

In order to boost your memory and recall skills, utilize the step-by-step guide to create your memory tool kit. The kit is comprised of three sections.

First, the explanation of memory techniques. Second, a memory journey map that uses mental association for recall. And third, a set of flashcards for memory exercises.

Improving your memory is both learning these techniques and applying the practice. As a college student, practicing these memory tricks can help you to retain more information in lectures and help you prepare for presentations and speeches as well!

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Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Moonwalking with Einstein is a beautiful story of memory. Joshua Foer chronicles his quest to improve his own memory. Relying on ancient tactics of remembering stories, modern research and distinguished techniques,

Foer goes on a journey to strengthen his mind. This book isn’t about teaching you to improve your own memory skills, rather it teaches you how to appreciate your memory and how we create memories.

In college, you are going to spend a lot of time reading things you probably did not want to have to read.

In your free time, you’re going to want to pick up a book that will not only teach you something new intellectually, but also teach you something about yourself.

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Memory Tips & Tricks by Calistoga Press

Memory Tips & Tricks: The Book of Proven Techniques for Lasting Memory Improvement

Calistoga Press relates improving your memory as a work out for your brain. Like any other muscle, your brain requires exercise and practice to be at its peak performance.

Practicing your memory skills will help you retain more information and be able to recall information when needed. This book on learning explains seven exercises that are supported by research to improve your memory.

Additionally, the book explains how we store and recall memory, the difference between short and long-term memory and memory recall. The book also explains how things like diet, caffeine, sleep cycles, stress and more can all affect your memory.

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Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley

Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive

Horsley argues that improving your memory can create a positive impact on your productivity. He states that many people do not tap into the full capability of their memory.

The book explains that by practicing to concentrate and focus your attention, you can improve your memory and recall. One memory method you can explore in this book is a technique for remembering names.

Another memory method will help you remember lists without having to write one down. Lastly, this book on learning explains what bad habits are disturbing your ability to improve your memory.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

This book has seriously changed my perception of memory, and what it means to hold memories. This beautiful work of fiction follows the life of Addie LaRue, who sold her soul to the darkness for total freedom.

Her freedom granted her eternal life, but cost her the inability to leave a mark. She can’t write her name, no one remembers her after conversations end and she can’t hold possessions.

Throughout this tale, Addie learns how she can leave her mark. Though this book won’t teach you about memory tips and tricks; it will highlight the importance of memories, and how special it is to be remembered.

I shed many tears on this beautiful work, and I sincerely hope you read it and enjoy it as I have. For college students so unsure of the direction they’re heading in, enjoy the tale of someone who lived many lives with many faces and hopefully find clarity within yourself.

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Best Inspirational Books

Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Everything Is Figureoutable

The four years you spend in college are meant to be the ones where you figure out what you want to do with your life. You are meant to find your passion and a job that will guide you for the rest of your life.

But life is not just a straight path for us to follow along. Our passions change, our goals change and we change.

This book is the perfect inspiration for what to do when you realize the path you’re going on is no longer the one you want to take.

With the mindset that you can do anything you set your mind to, Everything Is Figureoutable is a wonderful, humorous read on how to overcome whatever is holding you back.

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Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual

One of the biggest obstacles in the way of achieving our goals is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing and fear of disappointment.

As a rising third-year university student, fear of adulthood and “real life” is becoming more and more prominent. This fear holds us back.

In order to overcome this fear, author Luvvie Ajayi Jones says we have to become professional troublemakers. We have to recognize fear when it manifests and push through it anyways.

Professional Troublemaker is a great read for those of us in need of that push forward. It’s comforting to realize that we are not alone in our fear.

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I Used to Have a Plan by Alessandra Olanow

I Used to Have a Plan: But Life Had Other Ideas

Combining hilariously real one-liners and beautifully illustrated graphics, Alessandra Olanow describes the tumultuous journey when things don’t go quite as we planned—and how to work through the process of putting ourselves back together.

The book is structured in five parts detailing the stages you go through when dealing with a traumatic experience. It is full of vulnerable admissions—the ones we don’t even want to admit to ourselves.

Olanow shows us how we can process difficult times and come out on top.

Whether you’ve just had your heart broken for the first time, are in the process of changing your major, or didn’t get that internship you were hoping for, I Used to Have a Plan is the perfect combination of advice and admissions for college students in need of a heartfelt and uplifting read.

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming

From the former First Lady of the United States comes an inspirational tale of reflections. In her memoir Becoming, Michelle Obama recounts the experiences that shaped her into the powerhouse superwoman we know her as today.

Obama details her experiences growing up a young girl in Chicago, balancing motherhood and maintaining her own professional aspirations alongside her husband.

For as long as I can remember, my family has always encouraged me to go out into the world and make a difference. But no one tells you how difficult it is to really leave our mark—and how to do it.

Becoming is the complex tale of coming into your own. Obama reiterates that we are all a work in progress and so is the world around us.

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How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

The more I come into the real world of adulthood, the more I realize I know absolutely nothing about the financial world. The economy? Stocks?

Managing bills and understanding the impact of my technological footprint? These are the things I never learned in school—and only business majors can probably understand.

Jenny Odell writes How to Do Nothing to make us think about the world around us and how we see ourselves in it. Our attention is a commodity—a juicy feast to keep capitalism fed.

Odell critiques capitalism and the notion that we are useless in the world if our attention is not fixated on profit.

How to Do Nothing is a book for college students wanting to understand the outside world a little more, and have a pension for dismantling the system.

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You Are Awesome by Neil Pasricha

You Are Awesome: How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life (Book of Awesome Series, The)

Nothing is going to protect us from failure. And if you’ve never failed at anything, it’s because you’ve never taken risks. Dealing with failure has become a failure in itself.

But Neil Paricha, bestselling author and popular TED speaker, is here to help us build resilience in the face of failure. When the comforting thing to do is curl up in bed and watch comfort movies, (personally, I go for “The Avengers”)

Pasricha is here to help us build thick skin. Bad things are going to happen, but it’s how you deal with them and move forward that is the true test of strength.

This book on learning to push through failure is a candid view on how to make big changes. Nothing good ever comes easy.

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Read This for Inspiration by Ashly Perez

Read This for Inspiration: Simple Sparks to Ignite Your Life

Social media runs the world and it runs our lives, according to Ashly Perez. Perez, a former Buzzfeed writer and personality turned television writer and artist, shares how she empowers herself outside of the suffocating grasp of her cell phone.

Read This for Inspiration is Perez’ response to what she termed ‘phone fatigue’—that immediate reach for your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night and the endless scrolling and comparing yourself to others online.

I love that this book is such a real life read for Gen Z college students. Each entry has a tag that indicates what the story will relate to: creativity, body image, self-care and more.

Perez doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, and writes snippet paragraphs of inspiration. This book is meant for the younger generation who grew up with their eyes glued to the television.

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Related: Test Optional Colleges-Colleges NOT Requiring SAT in 2021-2022

Best Leadership Books

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power

Everyone enjoys having control. I love thinking that I have the power to control the outcome of situations, and although it is unrealistic to control everything, that hasn’t stopped me from trying.

For those wanting to understand control, to gain it or reject it, this book is for you. Author Robert Greene researched the history of power to condense 48 rules of the game of power.

Understanding power and how it works is the first step in controlling it to your will. Anyone can call themselves a leader, but a real leader is someone who has something their followers don’t, hence why their followers are willing to follow them.

The 48 Laws of Power is a great read for people looking to play the power game.

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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

In order to become great at anything, start by looking at how other people have achieved your goals in the past. Simon Sinek details how great leaders maintained their leadership—and the characteristics they all possessed.

In this study of powerful leaders comes an understanding of how to communicate in the same way.

Sinek discovered that all great leaders have something in common in the way they act and conduct themselves that no one else has.

Sinek deems this The Golden Circle, the foundation of building a successful organization. Understanding what an organization does is one thing, but understanding why they do it is the key to succeeding in leadership.

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The Servant Leader’s Manifesto by Omar L. Harris

The Servant Leader's Manifesto

The Servant Leader’s Manifesto is just that—a manifesto. It is a book on learning how to change.

The cover of the book features the inverted pyramid—an organizational structure that favors the people working directly with consumers as the head of the table, and executive board members on the bottom.

The goal of the inverted pyramid business structure is to listen to the people that work directly with consumers—they are the salespeople, the baristas and the customer service workers.

Author Omar L. Harris chronicles the end of ego-driven leadership and instead favors leadership that gives power to the workers.

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Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say–and What You Don’t by L. David Marquet

Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say--and What You Don't

The tried and true leadership model—where a leader makes every decision fast, efficiently and solves problems on their own—is gone, according to author L. David Marquet.

Instead, the best leadership relies on a team to get things done. Many people fall victim to the idea of total power and control when leading others.

Marquet postulates that in order for leaders to truly succeed, they must acknowledge their limitations and turn to their peers for support.

Oftentimes, leaders get in their own way when they can’t turn to others for collaboration. The next time you find yourself working on a team project, be sure to turn to this book on learning how to conduct yourself and your role within your short-term team.

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The Truth about Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

The Truth about Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know

The Truth about Leadership is the perfect book to understanding leadership—the good, the bad and the truth. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner reveal the biggest facts every leader needs to know.

Based on decades of research, the book explores fundamental facts of leadership to offer advice. One truth they discuss is putting personal values at the forefront of your leadership style.

Instead of conforming to a group identity when you lead, the best leaders share their values and expertise in order to succeed.

This is a great read for college students getting ready to graduate and helps prepare them to enter jobs with professional companies.

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Find Your Leadership Voice In 90 Days by Kadi Cole

Find Your Leadership Voice In 90 Days : How to show up, speak up, and stand out with confidence.

Not every leader will take the same approach, and different leadership styles can be successful for people in different situations.

Experienced leaders will give you advice on what made them successful, but what worked for them might not work for you. One leader may be more dictatorial than another and some more collaborative.

In Find Your Leadership Voice in 90 Days, author Kadi Cole details insight on how to step into your own leadership style.

Geared toward the feminine perspective, Cole advises new leaders how to speak with confidence, advocate for their goals and maintain lasting results.

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The Power of a Graceful Leader by Alexsys Thompson

The Power of a Graceful Leader

We hold many different roles in our lives. We are friends, coworkers, neighbors, artists, doctors, professionals and ourselves.

In each role, we hold different positions of power, of expertise and responsibilities, and each individual conducts themselves differently within the same role.

Alexsys Thompson understands that we have different roles to play, and understanding who you are in these roles is the first step to becoming the best leader you can be.

Thompson challenges readers to become compassionate leaders through an internal journey of getting to know themselves.

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Related: How To Fill Out The Common App – The Complete 2021 Guide

Best Books about Life in Your 20s

The Her Campus Guide to College Life by Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Annie Chandler Wang, Windsor Hanger Western, and Her Campus Editors

The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life

Two years into my time in college, there are some things I wish I knew before starting my first semester.

What times to avoid the rush at the library, how early to start studying for finals, setting boundaries with roommates and building friendships that last to name a few.

This guide for life on campus is the perfect manual for any woman wanting to expect the unexpected in college. Surviving the first week was the worst experience for me and I wish I had this book to ease my anxiety at the time.

What I love about Her Campus is that it is run by college women who know exactly what it is you need to hear, and what you need to figure out on your own.

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Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson

Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)

I absolutely adore Thomas Erikson’s voice in this book. Surrounded by Idiots is the perfect book to quell concerns when you feel like the most competent person in the room.

As a perfectionist, I expect things to be done a certain way. My personality type works well for me, but can clash with others.

Learning how to manage your personality with others is precisely the goal of this book. Erikson details how to communicate with people that have completely different personalities than you.

He describes four personalities and gives insight on how to work with each type of person. This is a hilarious read that will leave you feeling confident and assured.

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F*ck! I’m in My Twenties by Emma Koenig

F*ck! I'm in My Twenties

It’s the oh no moment. The moment you realize—oh no—you’re an adult.

Sure, you’ve been an adult since turning 18, but your 20s are the time when you live on your own for the first time, and when you have to pay your own bills and buy your own groceries.

You work a full time job and handle real-world problems. From Emma Koenig comes the truthful admissions of someone just trying to figure out how the heck life works.

This book acts as a stress-relieving journal with interactive pages dedicated to ridiculous checklists and doodles. Koenig takes on a voice as the journal so it feels like you're spilling secrets to an old friend. It is a cathartic way of processing real life.

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Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion

When you enter your 20s, you are essentially entering the real world. Emerging from our young adulthood into ourselves as mature adults takes shape in more facets of our lives than just one.

So yes, our 20s are about discovering who we are and what we want to do with our life, but another question we must grapple with is discovering how we perceive the world around us and how we fit into it.

Jia Tolentino critically examines the last decade of culture in a collection of essays. She discusses everything from religion, sexual assault, feminism, music and more to offer a voice to her generation.

This is a great read for young adults, with Tolentino forcing readers to critically think about the world around them.

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I Will Teach You How To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Second Edition: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works

If there is one concern every 20-something adult has, it’s money. The one thing school and college never teach you is how to manage your personal finances.

Sure, there is a lot to learn about the economy and business and your university will ensure you have an understanding of both. However, opening bank accounts, negotiating salaries, or buying a car?

These are financial decisions our parents had to figure out on their own. Now, we can turn to books like I Will Teach You How To

Be Rich to help understand how to manage our money safely and lucratively. Ramit Sethi teaches readers how to become a master at money management.

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101 Secrets For Your Twenties by Paul Angone

101 Secrets For Your Twenties

A book chock-full of witty one-liners and sneaky admissions, 101 Secrets For Your Twenties is a quick and fun read to carry on the go.

Acting as your little black book guide to becoming an adult, Paul Angone writes about surviving dead-end jobs, post-college disillusionment and failed relationships.

Open the book to a random page and find that one line to make you laugh through a hard situation. A theme of this book is to accept that things are not going to go the way you expect them to.

And if you learn to expect the unexpected, you’re finally getting to the point of adulthood.

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That’s a wrap. That was my list of best books about learning and studying.

Implementing the habits and techniques discussed in these books will be sure to improve any student with their study skills.

Learning is more than just reading- these books show that understanding how we think and feel will have lasting effects on our intelligence.

Learning happens in and out of school: from classrooms to real-life experiences, we are constantly learning about ourselves and the world around us.

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College Life

College Essay Format -The Best Tips to Format Your College Essay

Having trouble structuring your college essay? Check out these tips to format the best college essay.

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A girl of color sititng at a desk writing and smiling

Applying for college was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. It all worked out in the end, but I made it more difficult for myself than I needed to.

I wish I had a bit more guidance during the process. Now, four years later, I’m applying to grad school and writing my essays, and I’ve learned a lot about the college essay format. Here are some steps, tips and other information to help you.

Unfortunately, there is no formula for the perfect college essay. If there were, the application reviewers would get bored very quickly and nobody would stand out.

And, that’s exactly the point, to stand out (in a good way, of course). Watch this video for 7 tips to help you stand out with your essay.

You want the committee to remember you and your essay. They really only want to know about who you are and how you’ll fit into the college you’re applying to.

With this in mind, here are some tips on the college essay format, which can act as some guidelines as you write your own unique essay.

In this post:

Honesty

First, and most importantly, be honest. If your writing is over the top, they’ll recognize that. If you’re overexaggerating or embellishing your accomplishments, they’ll see that, too.

You want to come across as a genuine person. If it’s relevant to your essay topic, it doesn’t hurt to talk about your flaws, too. However, you should be careful when doing so.

You don’t want the committee thinking you’re a reckless, unmotivated person, for example.  But acknowledging your shortcomings and how you’ve overcome these challenges can be a sign of maturity.

Adhering to Length

Your college application essay is sure to have a restricted amount of words or characters. I like to ignore these at first. Let’s say your essay can be no more than 500 words long.

Try not to think about this limitation as you write your first draft. Simply just write whatever comes to your head and get something on the page.

The hardest part is conquering the blank page. If it so happens that you have 1000 words when you’re finished writing, that’s completely fine.

You have time to edit, cut, and condense. Unless, of course, you’ve waited until the last minute to start your essays, which I don’t recommend.

Once you have your first rough draft, read it over. Is it compelling? Is it an accurate representation of you? It doesn’t have to be perfect, but is your gut telling you that you’ve gone down the right path?

If you’ve written everything that comes to mind about your chosen topic, and you’ve come up short, try some more brainstorming. Did you go into enough detail? Is there an idea you could explain better?

Or, maybe you’re actually not passionate about this essay topic, so go in a different direction. It should feel like you don’t have enough room to say all of the things you want to say.

Related: How To Create the Best Essay Outline – The Student Guide

Choosing your topic

First and foremost, read the prompt. I cannot stress this enough. Even if you write an incredible essay, the application readers may not accept you if you didn’t answer their main questions.

Even so, the prompt is merely a guideline. It’s only there to get you thinking, so you do have a bit of creative freedom. Here are some common college essay prompts from the Common App if you’re unfamiliar with them:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7.  Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Pick the prompt that stands out to you the most. Maybe it’s because you already have an idea, or maybe it’s because you enjoy pondering the question itself. Either way, it’s best to go with your gut on this one.

Structure

Again, there is no magical college essay format to ensure you’ll be accepted into your school of choice. However, neatness and organization are always appreciated.

Although a college essay is more creative and personal than an academic, argumentative essay that you’d submit for English class, you should still implement some features of an academic essay.

For example, intro and conclusion paragraphs are a must. You need something to grab the reader’s attention in the introduction. You should also summarize your main point of theme in a “thesis” of sorts.

Then, in the conclusion, reiterate your thesis and main ideas just as you would with an academic essay.

Writing an outline

For some, writing an outline before your first draft is a very important step. It can help organize your thoughts and keep writer’s block at bay.

Others feel that an outline can restrict creativity, so they’d rather just write the draft beginning to end and see what happens. I’ve tried both options– each has merit for the college essay format.

It just depends on what I’m writing and feeling at the time. But, regardless of what you go with (outline or no outline before the draft), I’d still suggest writing a reverse outline.

If you don’t know, a reverse outline is essentially a condensed version of the essay you’ve already written. Read through your essay, write down the “subheadings” and main points.

It’s a way of viewing your essay with a fresher, more organized eye. It’s a way of answering the question, so what did I really write? Then, if you identify any problem areas, you know where to start.

Related: 140 Amazing Compare and Contrast Essay Topics – The Complete Guide

Your voice

When considering voice, the most important thing is that you sound like yourself. That is, a presentable version of yourself.

Avoid talking as casually as you would with a friend (my English is barely coherent when I’m speaking with my friends).

However, sounding entirely professional and formal can come across as stiff.

Again, you want to be respectful and presentable, but the readers want to get the complete picture of you. Sometimes, a conversational tone can work in your favor for the college essay format. For example:

Formal Example: I believe that I would excel at Great University, considering how I am a hardworking and passionate student. I will prioritize my studies as a biology major.

Conversational Example: Look, I’ve had my fair share of embarrassing moments, but the one I’m about to tell you takes the cake. It’s actually what led me to major in biology, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

The first example is a bit cold and run of the mill. If you gave that to a friend, it’s likely they wouldn’t be able to tell that you wrote it. Now, the second example is much more compelling.

The tone matches the content– the writer is going to tell you a funny story, so the tone is more relaxed. And, the voice is much more distinct. Even from these few sentences, you get a real picture of what this writer is like.

Overall, just write like you speak. Reading your essay drafts aloud will help you find a good balance between conversational and professional.

Edit! Edit! Edit!

Now, first we should talk about what editing actually means. It does not mean simply fixing typos and spelling mistakes and adding some commas.

The editing process requires far more effort than that. Do the paragraphs flow correctly? Do you need to add a new paragraph to finish explaining things?

Do you need to remove a paragraph? A sentence? A word? Do you have topic sentences? Is your introduction actually appealing?

As you can see, a big part of the editing process is asking yourself questions. You, being the person who wrote the essay, know exactly what you’re trying to say.

However, from an outside perspective, a reader may feel that they are missing bits and pieces when going over the essay. Try to reread what you’ve written with an objective mind.

Ask, “if the reader has never met me before, would they know what I’m saying? Would they feel like they knew me better after reading this essay?”

Double-check your grammar

After you have edited your essay multiple times, the next step is to polish it. I cannot stress how important this is.

If you’re applying to a competitive school, they’re receiving thousands and thousands of applications, and it’s not so easy for them to narrow down candidates.

I was once told by someone who worked for Stanford University’s admissions committee that sometimes the decision between who to accept and who to deny is a coin toss.

My point is, don’t give the readers any opportunity to count you out. An easy reason for them to dismiss your application is if you have grammar mistakes in your essay, so proofread, proofread, proofread. Here are some tips:

  • Read sentence by sentence.
  • Read your essay bottom to top (this forces you to slow down, making it more likely for you to catch mistakes)
  • Use a grammar-checker. But beware. Although they can be helpful, they’re not always correct.
  • Have someone other than yourself proofread. Ask someone who you trust and knows English grammar well, such as your English teacher.
  • Read your essay aloud.
  • Have Microsoft Word (or an equivalent) read your essay aloud.

Related: 20 Sites That Pay You To Actually Do Homework – The Ultimate Guide

Know when you’re done

Besides conquering the blank page, knowing when to actually submit the essay is one of the hardest parts. I remember obsessing up until the very last minute, and I mean this literally. I honestly didn’t benefit from it.

The essay was probably the same quality as it was days and days before, but I just couldn’t let it go. What if I found a last-minute spelling error? What if there was a better word I could use?

A better sentence I could write? All of the stress was not worth it. Like I said, there’s no perfect college essay format. Here are a couple of strategies to keep yourself sane during the essay writing process.

1. Come up with a timeline: Over the span of a number of months, give yourself checkpoints to keep on track.

When it’s time to start drafting, when to finish your first draft, when to have proofreaders check it, etc. This will help ensure that you don’t procrastinate.

2. Come up with a goal for a number of drafts: Think about yourself as a writer. What does your process look like? Come up with a number of drafts– five, ten, fifteen– whatever will work best for you, and keep that in mind.

You can only edit so much before you have to call it finished. As you near your goal number, start thinking about how satisfied you are with it.

If you’ve stuck to your goals, chances are that you have a lot to be proud of and have come a long way.

And there you have it– you’re finished! It’s been a long and difficult process figuring out the college essay format, but now that it’s over, you should celebrate.

You’ve done all the work you need to do, so set some time to relax and see some friends.

It might be a few months before you hear if you’ve been accepted, so the best thing you can do is focus on having a memorable senior year.

Watch this video for more tips on how to write your college essay! Best of luck!

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