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8 Alternative Activities To Make The Best Of An Uneventful Spring Break

If Cabo San Lucas isn’t on your spring break agenda, these eight things can be.

Spring has sprung and it is time for that weeklong break from college. But what about the students who will not be traveling to a beach in another state?

Here are eight suggestions for those who plan to have an uneventful spring break.

1. Study, Study, Study

Spring break is a great time to review previous content from class or preview new material that will be covered. Most college students either just completed midterm exams or will be taking them after spring break.

Either way, refreshing yourself on course material will help with retaining information, which is incredibly useful for the final exam season.

Also, for students who are taking full course loads and working part-time jobs or internships, spring break is an opportunity to brush up what you did not have time for during a regular school week. Studying will most likely boost your sense of achievement and your confidence as well. After all, a happy GPA equals a happy(ish) life!

2. Execute Those Backburner Ideas

Whether you’ve got a website you want to launch, a book you want to write or an innovative idea you want to realize, there’s no better time to execute them then spring break. Spring is the season of rebirth and newness, so developing an action plan and hatch your ideas are just the perfect activities if your plan is still empty. 

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If your goal is to develop a sock collection, start sketching and patternmaking. If you’ve been meaning to crack open that self-help book on your shelf, dust it off and read it.

Turning ideas into action and action into manifestation is a very productive way to spend a spring break because it’s highly unlikely that there will be time to do so afterward, and summer is for swimming.

3. Work

College can be the four best years of your life and certainly among the four most expensive ones. Students across the nation sometimes work two jobs just to live comfortably during this financially challenging time.

Of course, that isn’t the case for all students, but everyone can agree that a little extra cash never hurt anyone’s pocket. It comes in handy. If you have a job, there’s plenty of money you could make.

But if not, consider cutting grass, tutoring or helping your roommate revise their resume (they may not pay you, but it’s worth a shot). A week’s worth of work could help out in many smalls ways, such as covering gas or booze at the next tailgate. Also, parents tend to appreciate one less money call or transfer.

4. Have a Staycation

Staycations are underrated but often appreciated once taken. Consider going back to your hometown or exploring new territory in your college city.

Oftentimes, in college, students immerse themselves in on-campus activities and rarely get to explore the actual town. More than likely, there’s an event, festival or celebration of some sort happening near your college campus.

There’s also probably a lot going on in your hometown, especially if you reside in a big city. Websites such as Eventbrite or Ticketfly can help you find different activities to participate in.

Choosing a staycation over a vacation will save a ton of money and travel time as well as allows you to discover new things to do in the place you live.

5. Declutter

The saying “out with the old, in with the new” fits no season better than spring. Flowers are blossoming, dead leaves are gone and everything is simply fresh. For many people, it’s a time to reform themselves mentally, physically and sartorially, and the best way to start is by decluttering. 

If you haven’t worn or used something in the past six months, get rid of it. There’s no room for the new and improved thing if you hang onto every old and tattered thing, including your mentality.

Mental decluttering has the same effects as physical decluttering does, particularly stress and anxiety. Taking the time to write things down and checking tasks off makes a difference in the way you live and process your thoughts. Do yourself a favor this spring break and declutter.

6. Plan and Prepare

Similar to “executing those backburner ideas,” planning and preparing for what’s next is a great way to prepare for the future. With graduate season peeking around the corner, those planning to attend grad school should use spring break for preparations, such as finalizing application materials.

If you have already had an idea of which industry you want to work in, use spring break to reach out to companies for a shadowing or internship opportunities.

Or if you don’t have a plan yet, this break is the time to form one. Planning and preparing ahead of time is extremely beneficial since it provides you with a sense of direction, turning much of our fear of the unknown into excitement and anticipation.

7. Create Original Work

If you aren’t an art or English major, creating original content is probably not an integral part of your course curriculum. Sometimes drawing a stick figure in your notes during an 8 a.m. lecture is as creative as it gets, but expression through art is powerful and extremely therapeutic.

Creating original work is a great start to a very relaxing spring break. The focus and attention that it takes to create something tend to help students cope with the challenges of a collegiate environment.

Additionally, when someone creates an original work, it provides a sense of achievement and ownership. Knowing that your painting, writing, abstract drawing or design is completely yours is empowering and definitely worthy of a part of your spring break schedule.

8. Netflix Your Way Through It

Catching up on a show you’ve been meaning to watch is another good way to spend your spring break. Immersing yourself in a different world provides a sense of escapism that, at this point in the semester, could be much needed yet hard to find.

Healthy binging is totally socially acceptable, so feel free to browse Netflix’s binge-worthy category. For those staying in their college towns for spring break, Netflix has plenty of educational documentaries and original series that will easily ease your feeling of guilty for not studying.

Good luck trying to Netflix your way through spring break without developing too many para-social relationships.

​​​​​​​Surviving Midterms – Tips to relieve stress and find balance

I have been at NECO for about two months now, and it’s safe to say that school has kicked up a few notches. I had my first midterms, and it was quite the learning experience. Using the word stressful would be an understatement, especially not knowing exactly what to expect. Having five different finals over the course of one week teaches you that balance is key. You realize quickly that waking up, studying, taking minimal breaks for meals and going back to studying really takes a toll (not that I would know from experience or anything).

I learned a lot through the process and am happy to share with potential (and current) first year students some helpful tips on how to relieve stress and not drive yourself crazy during midterms or finals!

Tip 1: EXERCISE. Say it with me, endorphins. Exercising puts you in a good mood and ready to take on the days’ challenges. To quote one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…”! In our case, happy people study and do well on their midterms, but nevertheless, solid advice.

In addition to elevating your spirits, exercising also increases blood flow to your brain, which helps you stay focused and retain more information. I’ve found that I love to go to exercise classes like indoor spinning, but I have friends who do kickboxing, barre classes, and have even joined intramural teams like soccer and basketball.

Whatever you prefer, whether it’s lifting weights, going for a run outside, or playing your favorite sport, do what works for you and put down the notes for an hour.

Tip 2 – Time management. This is the tip that every optometry school you visit will tell you is important. What I found most difficult was trying to budget time to study for each final during midterms week. Going straight to the library to study for an upcoming test after exerting all energy taking on the one I just took is extremely difficult for me. I learned the hard way that not budgeting time and spending four days studying for one test and leaving one day to study for the other is not the move. Still, do not underestimate how hard it is to have a test the next day and start studying for the one that’s even after it.

It’s a real mental marathon of a week, but it’s doable! Use a planner, write things down on sticky notes, or as I’ve come to really like, Google Calendar. Trust me, you will thank me so much in the long run.

Tip 3: Balance. Similar to the exercise idea, make some time for things you really enjoy. Watch an episode of your favorite show before bed after studying. Eat your favorite foods this week. I mean, try to incorporate some fruits and veggies, but if you want to get Shake Shack every day, get Shake Shack. You need comfort food! I made mac and cheese once a day during midterms and it was honestly a lifesaver.

What I also found helpful was the support of the people in my life. Call your mom, dad, sibling, best friend that lives in another city, basically whoever you enjoy venting to. The amount of people that reached out to me made me realize I’m not alone, and even if I doubt myself there are people who believe in me! I spent a lot of time with my friends in my program, and it was so nice to have a night or two to just decompress and talk about things other than school. Lean on the people who make you happy this week, it will help you so much with the stress.

15 Helpful, No-Fluff Productivity Tips For College Students

//Wake Up Earlier

The early bird catches the worm, right? College students are notorious for staying up late. It just seems like a given. Especially if you have later classes. I’m not telling you to wake up at 5 AM every day (I certainly don’t). Start by waking up an hour before you need to and go from there. For example, if you have an 11 AM class, wake up at 8:30. You can go to bed at around 1 AM, get enough sleep, and still have enough time to do something productive in the morning before class.

//Use A Planner

I am guilty of not following this tip. At the beginning of the school year, I’m incredibly on top of my planner, but slowly stop using it. This affects my productivity and my sanity because I forget to do things sometimes. This shows in your grades. A planner will also help you manage your time wisely. There’s a reason this tip is in every productivity book and blog post you read.

//Get Dressed And Feel Put Together

I could write a whole post on the importance of getting dressed. (In fact, I probably will!) Looking good is not the goal. Sure, that’s a great way to feel confident, but being well-dressed and put together will help you get more done. Personally, I don’t get as much work done when I’m wearing my pajamas because that gets me in a mindset where I want to lounge around and do nothing. That’s why I get dressed every day. When I look like I’m ready to do something productive, I do something productive.

The same goes for working out. A lot of people feel motivated to exercise when they’re wearing workout clothing. Getting dressed sometimes gives you the push you need to get stuff done.

//Set Daily, Weekly, And Monthly Goals

You don’t necessarily need to do all of them. If you’ve been here a while, you know that I used to post my monthly goals on this site. I stopped because it stopped being productive for me. As a college student, my routine was broken up by weeks, so making weekly goals made more sense. I’d set goals for studying, my blog, and everything else weekly. This process may be different for other people. For people who own businesses, it would make more sense to set quarterly goals rather than weekly goals because that’s how their projects naturally line up. Choose what works for you, but make sure that you are always setting goals.

//Make An Assignment List Based On Your Syllabus

At the beginning of the semester, create a long list in chronological order of all the dates your professor gave you. Throughout the semester, cross things off as you go. This way, you’ll know exactly what is due the soonest and what takes priority.

Here's an example:

August 28, 2017
    - Algebra: Pg.5-12
    - Econ: Chapter 2
    - Spanish: Capitulo 2
August 29, 2017
    - English: Book Report 1 Due 
    - Chem: Lab Report due

Create something like that listing all your assignments for the semester. Color coding wouldn’t hurt.

//Don’t Listen To Music While You Work

I know. I know. You’re one of those people that can multitask and “work well with music,” but I’m here to tell you a secret. You’ll work faster without it. Music is fine when you are doing things like folding laundry or cleaning your room because you’re doing it passively. Your brain doesn’t need to focus that much. But when you’re writing an essay or studying, the music will distract you. Even if you can study well with music on, it doesn’t mean you’re studying efficiently. I used to be one of those people who would leave music on in the background, but ever since I stopped, I get work done SO much faster. (All caps doesn’t do this lesson justice). Don’t listen to music when you work!

However, I do need some ambient noise when I work. I live in a house (with incredibly thin walls) with six other people after all. I usually just turn on the fan in my room and put a towel over it so it doesn’t get cold (it also makes it louder). You could also use a white noise machine. You’ll end up finishing your work much faster and you can use that extra time to do other things you enjoy.

//Clean Your Room

Having a messy workspace is distracting and it certainly doesn’t motivate you to get things done. There’s a reason I never get anything done in my room. Many people, like me, get significantly more work done at the library or at Starbucks. This is because those places are generally tidy. Unfortunately, we can’t work outside all the time. We have to make it work at home, too.

Before I can get any work done on my desk, I have to make my bed. Even if all else is messy, making my bed makes me feel like I have my life together. Sometimes I fold the clothes piled up on my chair as well, so I can actually sit at my desk. This means there are less distractions for me and I can get to work.

//Only Check Your Email And Social Media Twice A Day

I’ve gotten really good at this, recently. Another way you could do this is by only checking social media in the bathroom. I’m sure you do this anyway, so you might as well make it your designated social media time. That way, you won’t waste as much time on your phone when you should be studying.

//Work Out

During midterms and finals, the gym is significantly more empty. During this time, I heard one of the trainers say,

“So many students don’t come to the gym during midterms because they “don’t have time.” Working out makes your day more productive. Not less.”

And I have to admit that I agree. During the school year, I work out 4-5 days a week. This isn’t because I’m a health nut (far from one actually). I just feel so much more energized  after I work out and crossing that item off my to-do list motivates me to be more productive. Moving your body is also an important part of self-care, so don’t avoid it.

Related – A Practical Guide To Working Out Regularly In College

//Carve Out Time In Your Schedule To Relax

You can’t work productively without taking breaks. Studying for 8 hours straight is not the answer. Studying for 2 hours, then taking a 30 minute break is. Make sure there are moments in your day you can relax like reading on the train or watching Netflix while you eat lunch. Taking a break never hurt anyone.

Related – How To Take Intentional Breaks In College

//Organize Your Desk And Your Desktop

My desk tends to be pretty clean. I just have a framed photo and a pencil holder. Other than that, my desk is clear. (The bulletin board in front of it is where my decorations live.) My desktop, on the other hand, is a mess. It’s an organized mess, but a mess. I recently cleaned up my desktop, and oh my lord, it’s beautiful. It’s much more relaxing than seeing a bunch of blog post images, old essays, and other random icons. Cleaning up my desktop has given me peace of mind and makes working on my computer so much more productive.

//Work At Your Desk

Whenever I work on my bed (which is something I do more than I’d like to admit), I end up surfing through Pinterest, reading blogs, and watching Netflix. This is because I associate my bed with relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, I do get work done on my bed, but I could get the same amount of work done faster if I worked at my desk. This is because I’m sitting in a chair instead of lying around waiting for dinner time. Sit at your desk and stay there. Keep snacks and a bottle of water with you so you’re not tempted to get up and get to work. I can work for an hour straight on my desk, while I take frequent breaks when I work on my bed. It just makes more sense to study at my desk.

//Work Outside Your Work space Sometimes

Don’t work at Starbucks everyday because you’ll waste more money than necessary, but as I’ve mentioned before, people tend to work more productively in places that aren’t their homes. You’ve heard me say this before: I try to get all my work done on campus because I’m a lot more focused there than at home. I’ve gotten a good chunk of my blog work done at my local library this summer because I write much faster while I’m here. (I take more breaks at home). A change of scenery is always a good idea in my book. Moving your work space to your dining table works, too.

//Pay Attention In Class

This way, you won’t need to study as much at home. Just hear me out, you’re paying for these classes anyway, so don’t skip them and don’t waste your time. You’ll be a lot more prepared for the test if you sit and listen to your professors’ lectures. This way, you won’t have to waste your time scouring textbooks looking for important information. Your teacher will have already given it to you! I get that some professors aren’t great at teaching, but they’ll give you important information in regard to your tests. Don’t waste that opportunity.

//Know Your Natural Rhythm

I don’t get as much work done first thing in the mornings. When I first wake up, I’m not in the mood to do homework and study. My brain isn’t ready yet. I need an hour or two to get the gears going (which is why waking up earlier gives me more time to do that). My energy is better served in making my bed or working out. I get significantly more work done in the afternoons, then hit a slump in the evenings. I know my natural rhythms. I understand when I’m most productive and when to do the right things. My rhythms probably aren’t the same as yours, and that’s okay. Just make sure that you schedule things around your natural rhythms.

Your natural rhythms can change, so update your routine to accommodate that.

4 Strategies for Completing Your Dissertation

Students take about eight years to complete a doctoral degree — twice the time of a bachelor’s degree. Also, the average age of a doctoral student is 33. Many doctoral students work full-time and have families and outside responsibilities than can make completing a dissertation an impossible task. In fact, almost half of all doctoral students complete their course work but not their dissertation.

This article explains how to avoid the dreaded doctoral degree attrition — by being your own manager, surrounding yourself with wise people, developing a professional relationship with your chair and creating good habits. You can increase your odds of finishing your dissertation by following these four steps.

No. 1. Practice time management, be organized and meet deadlines. Time management is essential. Make two-week deadlines for every part of the dissertation process, including reading, writing, edits and meetings. Set your own goals for dates on writing your proposal, defending your proposal, seeking IRB approval, conducting your research, conducting your analysis, writing chapters and preparing for your defense. Create deadlines for each week and always stick to them.

Once you start dissertating, don’t spend fewer than 10 hours a week researching, writing, editing and repeat. Schedule this time in. Dissertating now becomes your priority and routine. Cut out extra noise in your life. Trying to be a rock star at work, doing PTA work for your kids or committee work, teaching extra courses, taking lunch breaks, working out and sleeping all need to get cut out of your life. I’m kidding … OK, only a little. Make your dissertation a priority to be done in a year. Dragging this out even longer will make you feel like you are scratching your nails on a chalkboard.

Organize a folder on your cloud drive that has subfolders for chapters, presentations, tables, figures, meeting notes and example dissertations. You might create at least five drafts of every chapter, so this will help keep you organized.

Know your graduate school’s deadlines. There is the defense notification deadline, the abstract deadline, the application to graduate deadline, commencement RSVP, regalia purchases at the bookstore deadline, the defense deadline, submission of dissertation for formatting review and the defer commencement walk deadline (optional). Oh, and you need to complete forms for all these deadlines. Knowing all this information — and your faculty or staff liaisons in the graduate school and your college — is important. It is not your chair’s job to remind you.

No. 2. Surround yourself with wise and supportive people. Get your life partner on board with you. Let your partner read this article and let them say to you, “I love you, I support you, I’m right here to help you to the finish line.” Then specifically outline what you need from your partner. I told my husband to do all the dishes, take out all the trash, take our son to school, grocery shop every Saturday (I wrote the list), help me prepare meals on Sundays and let me shower once a day in peace. I also let him know I’d need to write on some Sundays, so he’d better prepare for life as a single dad. You need a “unicorn partner,” so turn yours into one for a year.

Second to your life partner, get your boss on board with you. I told my boss I was ready to finish and asked him to give me one working day a week to complete my dissertation. He agreed, and I promised him I would always put work first, use lunch breaks if needed and come in to work early.

Before bothering your chair with questions, first ask other sources — such as your other doctoral candidate friends or your graduate school writing center — and research answers online. Also ask your doctoral friends for their favorite statistical analysis books. This will help you with references for your methodology chapter.

Hire a tutor if you are deficient in one area, like statistics, before bothering your chair with endless minor questions. It’s not their job to teach or reteach you statistics. For example, I hired a graduate student that knew STATA statistical software and paid him $400 cash for 16 hours of consulting. We met for four hours every Friday for a month.

Also, get help editing the final draft. Hire a professional editor if needed. In addition, have a staff member in the graduate school writing center help you. After staring at this document for more than a year, you are bound to make a few extra spaces, forget a comma or spell “from” as “form.” Get it perfect, and get it right … just one last time.

Read/skim at least 10 different dissertations using the methodology you like — whether quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods. Then pick your top three favorites. Do not plagiarize, but use the structure of your favorite dissertations as a guide for your own. This isn’t rocket science — don’t reinvent the wheel.

Finally, attend a dissertation proposal and defense. That will help you see the room, prepare you for what you need to bring, help you understand the flow of the process and help ease your fears.

No. 3. Develop a professional relationship with your chair. Understand your department chair has a research agenda, courses to teach, service committees to deal with and a plethora of other dissertating students just like you. You are a small part of their life. Don’t take advantage of this, because you will wear them out for future students.

Have a solid conversation with your chair at least once a year, either face-to-face or on Skype. Get your check-ins with your chair down to every two weeks and make good use of their time and expertise for the 20 minutes you have their attention. Remember, meetings with your chair are effective by phone or online. Learn Zoom and Skype for Business.

When your chair says, “You might want to …,” “investigate …,” “maybe I suggest …,” know that isn’t really an invitation to intellectually debate. Don’t argue — rather, write down what they have to say, and go do it. At this point, your chair has listened to you and is giving you words of wisdom, not merely making suggestions. Take notes in every meeting with every committee member, then come back to your desk and type out your notes. This information is crucial to how you will prepare for your defense.

No. 4. Create excellent dissertation habits. Before you solidify your topic, you need to research. Don’t bore your chair with endless conversations about what you could research. Simply present your chair with three ideas, and then let your chair pick one.

Save research articles on Mendeley or a system that works for you. I eventually printed out my 100-plus sources and put them in binders alphabetically.

The next step is to write an annotated bibliography of at least 30 peer-reviewed articles. Create at least three headings of general topics you are going to talk about. Then write a draft of your literature review. Present this to your chair and ask them about theories to use. Then go with the suggestions you receive and just start writing.

Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Close the door to social media to simplify your life. Write when it’s a good time of day for you. Carry a notebook and pen to write things down, as you will start obsessing over your dissertation.

Know your APA manual; keep it close. Refer to it often. Also, keep the book Complete Your Dissertation or Thesis in Two Semesters or Less with you at all times. Read it often.

When presenting your proposal and your defense presentation, practice out loud at least five times. Type out what you will say in the notes section of your PowerPoint. Ask a recently graduated professor whom you respect for a copy of their PowerPoint, and use it as a template.

No single piece of advice will help you complete your dissertation, but these suggestions may help. Know that, in the end, completing your dissertation is worth it. You may finally feel like you have a seat at the table, and others finally listen to your wisdom and insight. A raise and promotion may even come your way. Good luck.

How to Eat Healthy in College (on the Cheap!)

What if you could get good, tasty, healthy, AND cheap food for your dorm room? This personal trainer and nutrition specialist explains how.

As a college student, you probably have barely enough money to buy ramen, much less fancy salads, salmon, and other healthy foods.

However, even though healthy food has a reputation for being expensive, it doesn’t have to be that way—even for college students. If you want to stock up on good-for-you foods to keep in your dorm room, use these tips. You’ll get what you need and save cash at the same time.

Learn the sales cycle at your local grocery store

All stores have a cycle for their sale and clearance items, and if they’re near your campus, they might be especially sensitive to cost-conscious college students.

Maybe you’ve seen their weekly sales flyers, which promote the deals for that week. If you can’t get these flyers in person, the grocery store might even share them on social media. At any rate, the key here is knowing when those promo cycles end, because that’s usually when surplus items go on sale.

Some grocery stores even offer double discounts on the day the old sales end and new ones begin. This may not sound like the cheapest technique, but AOL’s finance blog says this can save you as much as 50% off your grocery bill. All you have to do is plan your grocery trip ahead of time.

Buy simple foods and prepare them yourself if you can

Prepping your own meals is an easy way to cut costs and eat healthier in college. You might be surprised by how much healthy food you can keep in your dorm and even how much meal prep you can do if you have mini-fridge and/or microwave. And if you live in an off-campus apartment or an on-campus suite with a full kitchen? Well, the world is your oyster! (Except not really because oysters are crazy expensive.)

For example, pre-bagged salads are convenient, but you pay more for that convenience. To save on cash, grab a head of lettuce ($1–$2), along with carrots (less than $2 for a whole bunch), a cucumber ($1), and maybe a few more veggies of your choice (spend up to $5). Chop everything up at home and store in an airtight container in your fridge for an easy-to-grab base for lunch and dinner salads.

You can likely get at least five small salads out of that, which ends up costing less than $2 per salad. You can even bring some to the cafeteria and eat it as a side with an entree they’re serving.

But salad math is just the beginning. Other great cheap but healthy food choices for college students include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Beans and/or lentils
  • Eggs (microwave mug omelets, anyone?)
  • Garlic
  • Hummus
  • Onions
  • Peanut butter
  • Popcorn (look for low-salt, low-calorie options, not the butter-drenched kind)
  • Rice, preferably brown (grab the microwaveable bag if you don’t have a stove top)
  • Rotisserie chicken (if you can’t cook a chicken yourself)
  • Salsa
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Tortillas
  • Tuna fish (look for low sodium/forgiving roommates)
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Yogurt, preferably plain, low sugar, and/or Greek

With all the recipes online, you’ll have no trouble finding easy, healthy dishes you can make in a dorm. (Editor’s note: if you have a full kitchen, we highly recommend this “epically frugal” rice and beans recipe!) And don’t forget, cooking is a super-handy life skill, so the more practice you get, the better.

Related: 5 Easy Recipes to Cook Up in Your Dorm Room

Shop bulk items

The bulk section is where you’ll save on the cost of packaging. You can get the same amount of most granola, nuts, and grains for significantly less, especially if they’re running a sale. If your grocery store has bulk bins—and you aren’t picky—go for the items that are on sale to get a lot of food at a steep discount. Supplement these dry goods with other perishable items mentioned above to make healthy meals and snacks right in your dorm room.

Then there are bulk stores. And just like you might’ve teamed up with your roommate to share big-ticket dorm items like your mini fridge or TV, you might be able to go in on a bulk store membership together. If not, why not ask for one as a holiday or birthday gift? (Just be prepared for a look of amazement from your parents.)

Shop around first

Sometimes the stores we assume are the cheapest are actually more expensive than we realize. While Trader Joe’s is known for their low prices, a recent grocery store analysis found that stores like Aldi, Publix, and Kroger came in above Trader Joe’s for offering the most weekly savings.

If you have access to more than one grocery store, shop around before settling on your go-to. To test the difference in pricing, do the same exact grocery trip two weeks in a row (buying all the same exact items) at two different stores. Compare the total to see where you can save the most.

Take advantage of coupons and pricing apps

Coupons are one of the best ways to save on healthy food. The local papers are packed with manufacturer coupons, and many brands are now promoting newer, less-processed foods, allowing you to save big on the stuff you want most.

You can also use grocery pricing apps that direct you toward the best deals and might even give you cash back for shopping.

Use your student discount

Most retailers and grocery stores in college towns offer discounts for students, so long as they show an ID. Use this to save on healthy groceries whenever you can. Not only is it the easiest way to save but the discount is also usually high, around 20% off in many cases.

Saving money on healthy food in college is totally doable. Whether you use an app, do your research, or rely on the bulk bins each week, you can get what you need without going over budget.

How to Prevent College Burnout

If you got into college, there’s a good chance you’re a go-getter, someone with a can-do attitude who constantly tries to go above and beyond. That’s not a bad thing, but there’s a reason why many college students experience the burnout syndrome. A medical definition of burnout is hard to give because the phenomenon is still being studied. However, the experts at PubMed Health say continuous stress and pressure to excel may be the root cause of burnout.

Symptoms of burnout may include:

  • Feeling mentally exhausted
  • Feeling physically exhausted
  • Feeling alienated and depressed
  • Reduced productivity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety

In students, burnout is a result of school-related tasks taking priority over self-care. If you’ve felt any of the symptoms of college burnout, there are some simple things you can do to feel better and to prevent burnout from happening again.

1. Organize your planner.

Planners are useful time-management tools. Those who struggle to prioritize their tasks may be at a higher risk for burnout. A planner can help you manage your homework, class schedules, and other commitments.

2. Stay inspired.

Choose a role model in your career field that inspires you and follow them on social media. Seeing someone succeed in the same job you wish to have can keep you motivated through tough times at school.

3. Use all your tools.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, don’t fall for the idea that you have to solve all the problems on your own. Most colleges offer counseling, career guidance, and academic support for free through various campus organizations. Search online for any tools your school offers that might help you.

4. Use course reviews.

One way to make sure your course load isn’t too heavy is to read course reviews before registering. Course reviews on sites like Rate My Professors can tell you how other students felt about the course and if any professors were better than others. Look out for professors who assign too much homework — you may want to take the course under a different professor.

5. Make flash cards part of your study routine.

Flash cards are a great tool for memorization. If you need to memorize vocabulary, definitions, or formulas, then you should use flash cards as part of your study routine.

6. Create a study guide.

Study guides are another great way to study. If your exam includes short-answer or essay questions, writing a study guide will help you extract the big-picture concepts from your textbook.

7. Get a tutor or join a study group.

Another way to avoid burnout over too much studying is to study with a tutor or a group. Having another person to study with takes some of the pressure off your shoulders to learn everything on your own. You can ask a tutor questions if you have trouble understanding a concept, or use the synergy of multiple brains coming together in group study.

8. Brighten your mornings.

It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning when you experience burnout. To brighten your morning, create a morning routine you enjoy. That might mean brewing your favorite coffee, showering with a great smelling soap, walking your dog, watering a plant, or some other light-hearted task. If the first action of your morning is one you enjoy, you’ll be in a better mood for the rest of the day.

9. Set daily goals.

Small daily goals are extremely helpful in combating college burnout. One reason students burnout in the first place is unreachable goals. Getting straight As might sound like a good goal, but reaching that goal actually involves a bunch of smaller goals. Rather than focusing on the final grade, focus on the assignment at hand. Set a daily goal for how many hours of study time you want to complete or which assignments you want to work on. A day-at-a-time mentality will take you further than a semester-at-a-time mind-set.

10. Eat breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s not just an old adage. Overnight, the body’s storage of glucose and carbohydrates is used up to keep the body functioning properly while we sleep. It’s important to replenish your glucose and carbohydrate levels in the morning so you have energy for the day ahead.

11. Have “you” time.

Fit “you” time into your busy schedule to prevent burnout. College is a four-year balancing act, so you have to give yourself time to rest and recover. Take a nap between classes, make time to visit with friends, and enjoy the weekends. Find a balance between responsibilities and relaxation.

12. Listen to music.

There are many health benefits of listening to music. When you feel overwhelmed by a mountain of homework, an approaching deadline, or extracurriculars, it can help to turn on your favorite song. Initially, music can serve as a distraction from anxious thoughts, and listening to it for extended periods of time can improve your mood and decrease stress.

13. Get some fresh air.

Get some fresh air to clear your mind. Break up your study sessions with a walk outside, and you may notice that you feel recharged and ready to get back to work afterward. When you spend time outdoors taking in the fresh air, you get more oxygen to your brain. This improves brain function, concentration, and motivation.

These 13 tips can help you prevent college burnout. If you’ve felt mentally exhausted or overwhelmed, these are small things you can do to start feeling better. Try some out, and share these ideas with any other students you know who might be dealing with stress and other burnout symptoms.

How To Get a Master’s Degree: 8 Tips For Success

Impossible erase in possible writed on a blackboard with wooden frame

How can you set yourself up for grad school success?

If you’ve chosen your program, that’s the question that now matters most. Before you enroll and start that first graduate school course, you must be prepared for what’s ahead. Many well-intentioned degree seekers start strong but fail to finish. You need a plan that will keep you on track to completion.

The good news is, you can start building that plan right now. And, in turn, you can set yourself up to avoid the things that cause many people to slip up and fail.

The information, warnings, and advice below will give you a tactical guide for success.

4 Big Reasons People Fail to Complete Their Master’s

We won’t sugar coat it: getting a Master’s degree requires a lot of hard work. It’s not easy. And not everyone who attempts a Master’s program will actually complete their degree. Below are some of the most common hurdles to success we’ve seen.

1. Falling Behind on Their Coursework

Procrastinators will quickly find that the constant, high volume of reading, writing, and research means that falling behind is not an option.

“From day one, you need to think about time management. Make sure in your first classes that you set your time management expectations: learn how often you need to study, for how long, and on what days. Over the long course of your continued studies, the time management habits you develop early on can either make or break you.” George Pomeroy, Graduate Admissions Advisor at Franklin University

Typically, “pulling an all-nighter”—as some do when they get behind in undergraduate studies—won’t be enough to get you caught up.

2. Struggling to Write at a Graduate Level

The style of writing is different at that graduate level. That catches some students off guard. If you’re unable to articulate your research or your unique point of view, it’s hard for a professor to see how well you are achieving in your classwork

“You will need to adjust your writing style to graduate-level work. Begin writing through the lens of your experience and the subject you’re studying.” George Pomeroy, Graduate Admissions Advisor at Franklin University

Also, remember that you’ll need to be reading, reviewing, consulting, and footnoting multiple references and sources. Your writing must reflect your critical thinking, showing both theory and applied knowledge.

3. Expecting Too Much Hand-Holding

Graduate work is designed to be independent in nature.

“Earning a degree involves massive blocks of work that you must plan for on your own. Although professors are there to coach, prod, and advise, they will generally assume you’re doing your work on a schedule that works for you.” George Pomeroy, Graduate Admissions Advisor at Franklin University

Unlike undergraduate programs, professors are not likely to plan “check-ins” or “first draft reviews” for their Master’s students. You’ll be held to a much higher standard of independence.

4. Interrupted by Unplanned Life Events

Of course, graduate school doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Real life always factors in. Sometimes, major life events cause school to take a backburner.

“Perhaps a spouse loses employment. Or a child is hospitalized. Or a parent needs extended care. Any number of things can make life suddenly very difficult. When it happens, students end up feeling trapped between two high-demand worlds.“ George Pomeroy, Graduate Admissions Advisor at Franklin University

This is one advantage to choosing a program with flexible scheduling options. Students can manage their coursework amid challenging life events by taking six or twelve weeks off, and picking right back up where they left off. Or, they can reduce their load to one class for 6 weeks or 12 weeks.

What matters most when choosing a master’s program? Compare features, benefits and cost to find the right school for you.

8 Proven Strategies to Get a Master’s Degree Successfully

In reality, a host of issues can impede the path toward a Master’s degree. But you have ways to overcome those challenges. Here are 8 steps to take to increase your odds for success.

1. Build a Support System—and Use It

In a Master’s program, you’ll find yourself surrounded by some intelligent and motivated people. Consider them to be a part of your network.

Many of them will be adult students—an average age of around mid-30s—with notable career experience already behind them. That’s why your peers are a great wealth of resource, advice, information, and practical input. In your next course, there might be a CEO or an executive working right alongside of you.

These people can guide you and be a part of your education. Some classes have you working in groups and collaborative exercises; these are great opportunities to stretch yourself and build a network that can last a lifetime. When you see someone familiar from one class to the next, you may find ways to help each other

2. Take Advantage of Free Help

Also remember that most schools offer tutoring services. In some schools it’s free. Typically, undergraduate students try to muddle through on their own, and as a result grad students may not even try to ask for help. Don’t hesitate to tap into tutoring or even writing services. Your school will be able to tell you about educational experts who can help.

3. Schedule Milestones, Not Due Dates

Rather than placing looming due dates on your calendar, break your project down into micro-steps to achieve—steps that will lead up to fulfilling the assignment by the due date.

Having a project management regimen can be very helpful to stay on top of the many long-term and daily deadlines of a graduate program. Using digital tools, like the ones above, can ensure that all your tasks are synced across devices, and always at your fingertips.

Consider using a combination of Google calendar and the todoist app to keep track of these activities.

4. Find Work Times That Work

Your home, work, social, and school efforts can feel as if they’re competing for priority.

Remember that this isn’t like undergraduate programs. You’ll likely be working on weekends. Maybe your personal life will need to adapt because you’ll need uninterrupted weekend time for coursework, reading, and writing.

TIP: As you schedule, it’s good to account for the unique demands of your chosen school and each individual professor. As an example, at the working-adult-focused Franklin University, assignments are generally due on Sunday evening. That lets Monday-through-Friday employees have some time on Saturday and Sunday to complete and submit their assignments. On your calendar, try blocking out certain hours on every weekend or evening in order to have time at the ready.

Until you get your degree, you may have to set aside things you used to do on the weekends, like watching movies or sports, hanging out with friends, and doing other leisure activities.

5. Create a System to Organize Notes & Insights

There’s a major difference between the “regurgitation” of undergraduate work (memorizing, understanding, and knowing) and the “application” of graduate work.

To stay organized, consider using an app like Evernote or try creating detailed, nested folders in the GDrive app.

In a Master’s program, you’ll be expected to already know the information; you’ll now have to apply it by sharing your thoughts, opinions, and practical use of it. And that takes a lot more time and organization.

6. Hire a Freelance Editor

As mentioned earlier, the type of writing will be held to a much higher standard than undergrad work. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you should secure an editor to help you better position your writing. You can easily find them online using a service like Upwork.

You might be surprised at how affordably you can hire this kind of service. Editors can typically begin at $5-$10/hour.

7. Talk to Your Professors

Your professors and other faculty members are there to help. Remember that graduate schools want you to succeed, so think of it as a partnership where everyone wins. Let your professors know when you might need a little more guidance, and they’ll get you back on track.

8. Keep the End in View

It’s going to get hard. Be ready to fight off feelings of frustration. It’s a good idea to constantly remind yourself of why you’re getting your degree. When you’re feeling upbeat, get on your smart phone and set up a series of encouraging text reminders to pop up in the future, when you know your workload will be heavy.

Mastery Is in Your Grasp

Taking on a Master’s program can be overwhelming and might even inspire some feelings of fear. Now you have some advice that will put hurdles into perspective, help you address them as they come at you, and put you on the right path to successfully complete your degree.

A Guide to Starting Your Career Off Right

It used to be that a college education in itself was enough to guarantee you a high-paying job immediately after graduation. But with more and more Americans choosing to attend college, a degree alone unfortunately doesn’t cut it anymore. Increasingly, employers expect you to have internship experience so that you come to your first job out of school ready to hit the ground running. We know that getting one can be tough, though — which is why we’ve come up with a guide containing everything you need to know about how to get an internship.

Follow our advice, and you’ll get an offer in no time!

Consider Your Qualifications

One of the most common misconceptions that students have about how to get an internship is that they must apply to every position that catches their eye to increase their odds. But this is a sure-fire recipe for radio silence from recruiters and hiring managers. Instead, think about the skills and experience you currently possess, and which positions you might be a good fit for based on that information. A few ways to narrow down which internships are right for you:

  • Consider your experience: Think about your previous work experience, and which roles it might prepare you for. A student working at a campus newspaper might consider a journalism internship, while a student who tutors for a statistics class may want to look at data science internships.
  • Identify transferable skills: Skills that help you succeed in school or in the student organizations you participate in — such as organization, critical thinking and time management — will all be useful in the working world. Some quick research should reveal which jobs require these skills.
  • Explore your interests: With how much time you spend at work, you want to make sure you enjoy it! Write down a few career fields that interest you, and search internships in those areas.
  • Start small: Don’t feel pressured to get your dream internship right away, especially if you have no prior work experience. Start by exploring small local organizations, groups affiliated with your school or volunteer work in order to bolster your resume.

Know Where to Look

Once you have a more concrete idea of which internships would be the right fit, it’s time to see what’s out there! Here’s how you can do that.

Visit Job Sites: Websites like Glassdoor have millions of job listings, so you’re bound to find something that’s right for you. You can search for the internship titles you’re interested in, and narrow results down by location, size, industry, company ratings and more. To get relevant results delivered to your inbox, create a job alert.

Use Your College’s Career Resources: Almost all colleges have a career site where employers interested in hiring their students can post positions. Career and internship fairs can also be invaluable, as they allow you to connect face-to-face with hiring decision-makers.

Leverage Your Network: Getting a personal recommendation can make all the difference in your internship search, so make sure to reach out to friends, family, colleagues, classmates, professors and alumni to see if they know anyone hiring. Another great strategy is to look up the companies you’re interested in and reach out to employees there for an informational interview. You never know what opportunities it might lead to!

Contact Companies Directly: If you have a dream company in mind, but they don’t have any relevant internships, you can always try writing them a letter of interest in hopes that they will either contact you when one opens or even create a new one for you. It’s more of a longshot than applying directly, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Prepare Your Application Materials

No matter what job you apply to, there are a few key materials you’re going to want to have on hand. Here are the most common ones, and how to perfect them before you apply.

Resume

Resumes are brief documents that showcase your skills, education and professional background. Typically, resumes will contain your name and contact info, education, professional summary, work experience, skills and additional experience. If you’ve never written a resume before, using a template can be helpful.

Some tips to keep in mind as you write your resume:

  • Use the STAR format — situation, task, action and result — in your work experience bullet points
  • Quantify your impact whenever possible (e.g. ‘Served 50-100 customers per day and handled a cash register that totaled over $1,000 a day in sales.’)
  • List your key wins and accomplishments, not just your day-to-day tasks
  • Highlight meaningful extracurriculars & awards
  • Emphasize skills & responsibilities found in the job description
  • Keep it clean, concise & easy-to-read

Cover Letter

Cover letters add additional color and context to your application. It’s important to note, though, that cover letters shouldn’t just list what’s on your resume — they should persuade whoever is reading the letter that you are uniquely right for the job. While not always mandatory, cover letters are almost always a good idea. They show that you are passionate about the opportunity, and provide a more well-rounded picture of who you are as a candidate.

Some tips to keep in mind as you write your cover letter:

  • Start with a unique opening line — anecdotes, quotes and fun facts are all good options
  • Do some research into the company, and mention a few things you’ve learned about it throughout the letter to showcase your knowledge of and passion for the organization
  • Explain how your previous work experience has prepared you for this role
  • Share a few ideas about how you would contribute to the company if hired
  • Customize your cover letter for each new job that you apply to

Social Media Profiles

Many recruiters use social media to research candidates — some may even require a link to your social media profiles. So if you haven’t already, you may want to create a professional social media profile, especially on a networking site like LinkedIn.

A few best practices to follow as you polish your social media presence:

  • Choose a professional headshot for your profile picture
  • Add relevant work experience as applicable
  • Keep it appropriate — delete any suggestive references or pictures
  • Share and engage with relevant industry content

Online Portfolio

If you’re entering a creative field like web development, graphic design or writing, an online portfolio is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd. Platforms like Squarespace and Wix make it easy to put together a polished collection of your most notable projects and work samples.

As you’re creating your profile, remember:

  • Highlight the projects that most closely resemble the type of work you’d like to do moving forward
  • Describe the impact these projects had
  • Feel free to add some color and design, but keep it clean and easy to read
  • Update it frequently

With your materials ready, you’ll be ready to apply! It will likely take multiple tries, but if you keep at it, you’re bound to eventually hear back from a recruiter or hiring manager hoping to set up an interview.

Interview Like an Expert

Interviewing is often the process of the job search that people dread the most. But if you adequately prepare, it won’t be nearly as intimidating. Before your interview, make sure to look up some basic information on the company — things like what products/services they offer, who’s on their leadership team, what milestones they’ve reached recently, who their competitors are, etc. Any of these subjects are fair game in an interview, and not knowing the answer to one of them will show that you haven’t done your due diligence.

You can also use this information to come up with a few questions of your own. Asking your interviewer specific questions about the company will show that you are passionate, curious and well-informed.

You’ll also want to research common interview questions beforehand. You can reference Glassdoor’s list of the 50 Most Common Interview Questions, as well as search interview reviews for your job title and company on Glassdoor in order to see what real recruiters are asking candidates like you. Once you’ve identified a few of the questions most likely to come up, practice them aloud with a friend.

Here are some tips that can be applied to answering nearly any interview question:

  • Get specific: There’s nothing interviewers find more frustrating than a vague or evasive answer, so when responding to a question, share specific ideas, examples and anecdotes.
  • Think positive: Always exude enthusiasm and optimism. No one wants to hire a candidate who makes it clear that this isn’t their first-choice internship.
  • Ask for time if necessary: When faced with a tough interview question, sometimes your mind just goes blank. That’s okay — it happens to the best of us! Rather than rushing through a half-baked answer, say “That’s a good question, let me think about it for a second,” and take a few moments to gather your thoughts.
  • Be yourself: Students often get caught up thinking about what interviewers want to hear, but if you just tell somebody what you think you should, you risk coming off as artificial or maybe even ending up at an internship that isn’t right for you.

Follow Up & Finalize the Offer

Once you’ve gotten past your interview, breathe — the hard part is over! But your work isn’t quite over just yet. To start with, you’ll need to send a thank-you note to anybody you spoke with. Thank-you notes show that you’re organized and thoughtful, which both matter a great deal to employers. To write a great thank-you letter:

  • Send it within 24 hours
  • Thank the interviewer for their time
  • Mention what you enjoyed learning about the company
  • End with a call-to-action that invites them to reach out to you for anything they might need

Then, it’s time to wait until an interviewer provides you with an update. If they don’t reach out to you when they said they would, feel free to send a short check-in note — something like the following:

Dear [contact name],

I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to follow up about the [job title] role. I really enjoyed meeting you and the team last week, and I’m very interested in the opportunity. I’d love to know if there’s any further information I can provide during your hiring timeline.

Thank you,
[Your name]

With any luck, you’ll get an internship offer from the company shortly afterwards. Most companies make it official by sending you an offer letter, which you will be expected to sign and return to them. Look out for important details like start dates, responsibilities, pay and location. You should also ask if there’s anything you can do between now and your start date in order to prepare for your role — you want to make sure to start off on the right foot.

6 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS – AND HOW TO MAKE THEM STICK!

Making a New Year’s resolution is easy. Sticking to it is much harder. Here are some common New Year’s resolutions for college students, and tips on how to make them stick.

Study harder. It’s no mystery why this is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions for college students. Better study habits lead to better outcomes. We’ve posted a few blogs that will help you with your study mechanics (try this one and this one), but consistently putting these mechanics into practice requires the formation of habits. To make habits stick, you must commit to them for at least three to four weeks (studies often cite thirty days). Start simple and make it daily. If you only study sporadically, it’ll be much more difficult to form the habit.

Perfect attendance. For many college students, perfect attendance is like a unicorn. You’ve heard of its existence, it sounds amazing, but you’re pretty convinced it’s a myth. The truth is, the practical benefit of attending every class is worth the effort it takes to make it happen. You can’t control unexpected events in your life, but you can better prepare for them. Take care of yourself to avoid sickness. Plan on showing up to campus a little earlier just in case you have car troubles. It’s not the most glamorous of New Year’s resolutions, but it’s one worth pursuing.

Get more sleep. We don’t need to debate the merit of being well-rested. As a college student, your commitments often keep you from achieving that perfect eight hours of sleep. One way to combat this is by structuring your sleep the same way you structure important events in your life – budget and plan for it! Try studying earlier. Stay away from computer, tablet, and phone screens prior to hitting the hay.

Finish assignments at least one day in advance. Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing something. It’s the decision to do something impulsive (often instant gratification) instead of sticking to a plan. To finish assignments early is the most noble of all New Year’s resolutions for college students. Here’s how you make it happen:

  • Start by writing down when your assignments are due. Make your due date one day earlier.
  • Tell at least three people you are completing your assignment a day early. This way, whenever you see them, they’ll be likely to inquire about your progress.
  • Break completing the assignment into small, manageable steps. Sometimes we procrastinate because the work seems overwhelming. Small chunks of work are more manageable.
  • Eliminate procrastination enablers. This includes and is not limited to Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, television, jump ropes (if you’re in to that), etc.

Make healthy choices. These types of resolutions rarely pan out because they aren’t specific enough. Being specific with your formula will help your resolution stick. For instance, if you want to get in better shape, your formula may look like this:

“I want to lose [blank] pounds by [date]. I will achieve this by getting [blank] minutes of exercise [blank] times per week. I will also get [blank] number of servings of fruit, vegetables, and whole foods per day.”

Being specific makes all the difference in the world.

Have a 5-year plan. You’re likely going to college to achieve a specific outcome (like becoming a Registered Nurse). What you do post-college should be about achieving specific outcomes as well. In essence, having a 5-year plan is similar to having an extended New Year’s resolution. Like all resolutions, be specific about what you want. Write it down. Tell other people about it. Five years is far enough in the future where you can start laying groundwork towards achieving your long-term goals. The best way to stick with it is to revisit your goals often. These should be regularly-scheduled times to determine if the steps you’re taking to achieve your goals are working or need to be adjusted.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Graduate Student Edition)

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Graduate Student Edition)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the lab,

Not a creature was stirring, not even an undergrad;

The lab coats were hung by the fume hood with care,

In hopes that our PI soon would be there;

Some grad students were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of publications danced in their heads

But my labmate with her tea, and I with my mocha (peppermint),

Had just settled down for a long-ass experiment,

When out in the parking lot there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my lab bench to see what was the matter.

Over to the window I trudged with a teeth-gnash

Tore off my latex gloves, and threw them in the trash.

The moon on the breast of our newly-parked cars

Highlighted our drudgery, in the lab at all hours,

When what did my watering eyes did appear,

But a Mini-Coop, and eight boxes of lab supplies…oh dear.

With a little old driver, much smarter and wiser

I knew in a moment he must be my advisor.

More rapid than peer reviews his orders they came,

And he mulled over, and pondered, then called them by name:

“Now glass cleaning! Now grading! Now culturing and DNA extractions!

On, lit reviews! On, data analysis! On, exams and presentations!

To the end of this semester! To the end of the fall!

Now, slave away! Slave away! Slave away all!”

As students to free post-seminar snacks fly,

When they find some more coffee, and get a caffeine high;

So over to the lab bench the grad students we flew

With our hands full of lab supplies, and our lab notebooks too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard (though it’s not my strong suit)

The stepping and stomping of each loafer boot.

As I looked up from my research, and was turning around,

Down the hallway came my advisor with a bound.

… (Tra la la nose like a cherry, bowl full of jelly, tra la)

A squint of his eyes and a turn of his head

Soon gave me to know I had data to spread(sheet)

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the grant applications; then turned with a jerk,

And grabbing his laptop, from his office desk he rose

And giving a nod, out the lab doors he goes;

He sprang to his car, to his students gave a wave,

And away he drove, probably back to his research cave.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

“Happy Lab-Mas to all, and to all a good night!”