College Study Hacks: How To Memorize Faster, Retain More, And Do Better On Exams

Studying is important. It’s how you got into college in the first place. But now that you’re here, things are a little different. High school tactics won’t do the job in a college class. Studying the night before or quickly looking over the key terms before a quiz won’t carry you to that “A” anymore. The classes are harder. They have fewer opportunities to get points. And the exams are longer and harder than ever before. Let’s face it: You need some college study hacks.

College study hacks are different than those entry-level methods used in high school. It’s the big leagues now, so you’re going to need to think differently. Some courses require mass memorization. Other professors will ask you to write an essay about any covered topic on the spot. Most exams will demand you do both. And there are three to four other classes demanding your attention.

We gathered all the best time-tested, gimmick-free study hacks to help improve your information access, retention, and exam performance. Here are the WayUp Guide’s five best college study hacks.

1. Form A Group ASAP

Studying with other people is a really powerful thing. Study groups combine the various strengths and different interests of multiple people. And, when done right, these groups can make each of their members fully prepared to get an A. There are a couple ways to do this.

You can study together in person. This way, you’re all forcing each other to be productive while you’re together. Plus, if any questions come up, you can talk to a real live person working on the exact same thing as you are. This is also a great social opportunity, too. You can make friends or connections you might’ve never met!

However, if you’re a lone wolf, like many people are, then there’s a way of group studying without meeting up. Just ask people in your class to put their emails into a shared Google Docs folder. After you’re all on the document, you can pool your knowledge, answer study guide questions, and have a solid understanding of what other people are studying.

It’s really important to do this ASAP, like during the first or second class. If you’re the person to pull out your laptop and say, “Everyone type their email in here and we’ll make a Google Doc,” then you’re in control. You can set up meetings, build a shared study doc, and benefit from everyone’s knowledge.

This can be especially important if you’re not so sure about the material. At the very least, you can organize the study group. That can be your contribution!

college study hacks

2. The Test Answers Are (Usually) Already Out There—Go Find Them!

This is one of the most surprisingly well-kept secrets of the college world. It’s true: Most of the time, test answers and questions are already available to you.

They usually take the form of practice tests, homework sets, practice problems, and other such student resources. If your school uses an online platform like Blackboard, you can usually find practice tests or problem sets on there. While the specific numbers might change (and that’s only a maybe), the stuff your professors and TAs have distributed was usually done so for a reason. They gave you practice problems because they thought it was important material. Don’t waste that opportunity to get a look behind the curtain!

Even if your teaching staff didn’t give you a practice test, your homework and problems that were done on the board during class are usually really important indicators of what’s going to be on the test. Tests are (usually) not deviously assembled to give you a hard time. The teachers are judged on your performance, too, and they want you to succeed.

3. Don’t Go To The Library If It Doesn’t Help You

This goes for any of the “classic” study tropes that might not apply to you. If sitting at a desk doesn’t work for you, then don’t do it! If writing stuff down doesn’t work, then don’t do it! You want to be comfortable, but alert, and definitely not anxious.

It’s hard to ensure that you’re going to be calm, cool, and collected because, you know, you can’t stop thinking about this looming exam. However, finding something that works for you emotionally, physically, and—of course—intellectually is the most important thing.

college study hacks
Just slide on out of that library!

If you live far away from the library and only plan on studying for 2 hours, don’t waste 30 minutes commuting there. Just go to your dorm’s lounge or a nearby Starbucks. Spending too much time thinking about the place is a waste of your own time. Just do what feels right and don’t feel any pressure to study the way someone else does—unless it actually works for you.

Same goes for methods of studying. Professors love to tell students how much research there is about the memory differences between typing out notes and handwriting them. But it’s just not the case for everyone. Many people excel with tools like Quizlet that don’t involve any handwriting.

Do what’s right for you!

4. Space Out Your Studying

There’s a well-observed phenomenon known as the “Curve of Forgetting.” Essentially, what the research concludes is that you’re much better at remembering stuff when you review it again later. This means leaving all your studying for one day (or even one session) is usually a bad idea in terms of mass memorization.

This also goes hand-in-hand with “chunking.” Also somewhat well-documented in the academic psychology world, the theory states that breaking up information into chunks of related ideas helps you remember it better in the medium-to-long term. For example, it might be easier to remember that Cookie Monster is blue if you also learn that he loves cookies and speaks like a caveman. The combined facts form a more cohesive story that is easier to remember. It’s not quite Sherlock Holmes’s famous “Mind Palace,” but it’ll do.

college study hacks

No matter what you believe, the point is that it’s best to study with a method.

5. Of All The College Study Hacks, The Best Is…Actually Study!

This one might sound snarky, but it’s true! It’s so easy to feel like you’ve spent a ton of time studying because you’ve been sitting in the library for hours or staring at your screen all day. But studying is the actual act of learning and memorization.

Be comfortable, don’t waste your own time, and study in bursts during which you can actually focus. Break it up with some light exercise to get the blood flowing and stimulate brain activity. And finally, don’t agree to any plans during your designated study time. However, on the flip side, don’t designate all your free time for a whole week or weekend to studying, because you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

College study hacks are great, but nothing beats the real thing! You can break it up however you like, just make sure you actually do it. If you’re someone who over-prepares for things, try not to. The stress of studying more than you need to can actually make you perform worse if you lose sleep or concentration.

Finally, when it comes to the critical moment of test-taking, just breathe, relax, and answer what you can.

For more back-to-school tips, tricks, and college hacks, be sure to check out the WayUp Guide!

Choosing College Classes 101: How To Pick The Right Schedule (Even If You Don’t Know Your Major)

The college experience is about a bunch of things. It’s about growing up, forging friendships, finding love, and charting a path for yourself. But more than anything it’s still school! Just because you’re not in high school anymore, doesn’t mean you don’t have to make academic decisions. So, choosing college classes is one of the most important things to get right while you’re there.

The right set of college classes can mean the difference between falling in love with a new subject or field or absolutely dreading (and failing) your 9 a.m. Organic Chemistry for Non-Majors class.

How do you go about choosing without knowing your major? Can you find out if a class is too hard? Can you really get good classes for your freshman year?

There are so many questions when it comes to choosing college classes. The WayUp Guide is here to answer them for you. If you put these five steps on your to-do list, you can walk away with the best possible schedule guaranteed.

1. Know What You Need

Choosing college classes is something that takes a method and a mission. You’ve got to know what you want and why you want it. It doesn’t mean having a 30-Year Plan or anything like that.

When You DON’T Know Your Major

You can even pick the right classes without knowing your major.

As long as you make a plan for your general education or school requirements ahead of time, you don’t need to know the fine points right away.

If you’re enrolled in the school of arts and sciences at your university—sometimes called “the college” or “general studies”—then you probably have a slate of required, across-the-board classes you have to take. However, it’s also likely that many Advanced Placement (AP) tests, SAT subject tests (sometimes called SAT IIs), or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests will get you out of those requirements.

For example, an AP test score of 5 on the AP Statistics exam will usually get you out of the math requirement. The same goes for a humanities requirement with the AP English exam.

When You DO Know Your Major

If you do know what you want your major to be, that’s when more careful planning becomes necessary. When it comes to choosing college classes for decided majors, the same rules apply for general education requirements: You need to plan ahead. But now that you know what your major requirements will be, too, you should plan those out as well.

This is especially true for double majors and people with minors. Now is the time to make the dreaded four-year plan. It can be intimidating thinking about planning that far ahead, but it will really pay off in a big way. And it absolutely does not mean that you can’t leave room for taking fun classes. Get everything required out of the way. That way, you’ll have time left over for fun classes like Creative Writing workshops or The Business of Space Travel.

2. Know What You Want

This part is a bit trickier, but a LOT more fun. Now’s the time to decide what it is you actually want to take.

Once you know that you need to take, for example, a history class, you can make a more specific decision. Like whether you want to take The History of Hip-Hop or Analyzing Wheat Output During The American Civil War. Both schools of thought are completely valid, but planning ahead of time lets you dive in to what you’re most interested in. Plus, when you take classes you like, you’re generally going to do better in them. Good grades mean a great GPA, which is always a plus for employers and grad schools!

You should also look into the teaching styles of your potential professors using sites like Rate My Professors or school-specific review systems like Boston College’s PEP system. Do they give a lot of homework? How are they with class participation? Are they supportive? Do they really challenge you? There’s so much to know (and find out) about a professor and a class beforehand.

Beyond knowing what you want in terms of actual subject matter and teaching styles, you have to know yourself and what you want. It’s awesome if you can wake up at 8 a.m. everyday and go to the earliest possible classes…but most people are not like that. Be realistic with your self based on your social schedule and habits about what class times and workloads actually work for you. There’s nothing wrong with having your day start at noon!

3. Weighing the Options

Now that you’ve found the classes you want and planned out the classes you need, you need to make some calls. Is it worth taking that 9 a.m. if you get that legendary professor? Is it too much of a hassle to put three general education classes in one semester?

Now that you’ve done your research, you should balance out your interests. Make sure you leave enough time for friends, fun, and perhaps even an internship during the semester. It’s never a bad idea to get more work experience. However, it’s a terrible idea to take on more than you can handle. Be ambitious, but not so much so that you end up disappointing yourself with absurd expectations.

4. Doing All This BEFORE Registration Opens

This is really the key to the castle.

Planning ahead gives you the ability to make backup plans. Knowing how badly you want something means knowing your first, second, and third choices. You won’t always get your #1, but you can usually get one of your top 3 classes.

Another pro tip: If you really, really want to take a class, then email the professor ahead of registration and let him/her/them know you plan on enrolling. If you share your enthusiasm, then they’re more likely to bump you up off the waitlist if you can’t get in.

If you’re only making last-minute decisions about registration, you’re going to end up having one option in your head and no backup plan, if that. That means you have a higher chance of getting into trouble.

5. Get Lucky With Registration Times

Even after all the prep work in the world, choosing college classes can be hard. You still have to get lucky with registration times. Colleges assign registration times somewhat randomly, although they usually consider seniority, athlete status, and a variety of other factors. If you go to a small college, then registration time can be particularly important.

It’s also important to do as much prep work as possible in terms of preparing for the actual act of registering. Many schools, like NYU, will let you pre-select your classes in their online system so you can just click “register” when your time comes. Those valuable few seconds lining the classes up could mean the difference between taking your dream class and your nightmare!

While this is luck-based, it’s also possible to game the system to your advantage. If you’re an athlete, a transfer student, or someone in a highly specialized major, then you can probably get a better registration time just by asking for it. Many schools also have accommodations for people with more difficult situations. If you’re one of those people, then make sure you get your due.

Choosing College Classes 201: In-Person Meetings

No matter how far away registration is, one of the best resources is your academic advisor. They can help answer questions like, “Does this AP test satisfy this requirement?” And many, many more like that.

You also might have a major advisor. They can help you understand which classes best align with your interests and which professors have the best reputations. Don’t sleep on these incredibly valuable resources.

If you do all that, then you’re more than ready to handle registration not just for now, but for the rest of college to come. Thirty minutes of work can make 4 years of school SO MUCH BETTER. For you, choosing college classes should be a cakewalk.

For more back-to-school hacks, tips, and tricks, be sure to visit the WayUp Guide!

Should I Study Abroad? Everything You Need To Know Before Making Your Decision

Study abroad programs are an amazing way to experience a new part of the world. They’re a rare opportunity to go in-depth into a foreign culture. Plus, they’re a launchpad for traveling around a new continent (or the world). But there are also risks—both professional and personal—to this kind of travel. So, if you’re wondering, ‘Should I study abroad?’ then we’ve got some answers for you.

Here at the WayUp Guide, we’ve gathered all your questions and the best answers the experts have to offer. After reading this and a little research, you should be able to make a decision with confidence.

Should I Study Abroad?

The first thing to consider about study abroad is whether or not it genuinely interests you. At many schools, there’s a ton of pressure to study abroad, but it’s not right for everyone. So, the first question you should ask yourself is, ‘Do I really want to study abroad?’ And if the answer isn’t a strong yes, then you shouldn’t feel the need to pursue it.

Once you’ve sorted out whether you’re interested in study abroad, there are two other major factors to consider: graduation and finances.

Study abroad programs are far less flexible than a normal semester when it comes to which classes are offered. And if you don’t plan your classes out ahead of time, it can make graduating in four years (or however long you planned) very difficult.

Even though scholarships and financial aid are available for study abroad, there are a ton of hidden costs to the study abroad experience. Stuff like travel, dining out, and basic living necessities come up a lot, and usually cost more (especially in a tourist hotspot or big city).

Does My School Have A Study Abroad Program?

If your school has an established study abroad program, it can make the process much easier. If they do, then they usually have a streamlined process for making sure you can take the right classes and pay for it with financial aid, scholarships, grants, etc.

So, finding out whether your school has a program should always be your first step. Here’s how.

The easiest way to do it—like so many things now—is to Google it. Just type the name of your school plus “study abroad,” and it should bring you to the landing page for your school’s study abroad program (like this one). From there, the world is your oyster. That page should have all the info you could ever want on study abroad. Plus, it will usually give you contact info for a study abroad counselor or program coordinator. You can ask them all the nitty gritty questions about financial aid, campus culture, and beyond.

If something isn’t immediately showing up, then it gets trickier. Your school might not have a whole department of people working on study abroad, but they still might have a program. In this situation, there should still be something turning up on your online search. But if there isn’t, then you should contact your academic advisor. Advisors are on the front line for study abroad everywhere, because they have to make sure it works with your degree.

Can I Still Study Abroad If My School Doesn’t Have A Program?

The short answer is, yes!

Many universities have programs that are open to applications from different schools. Doing the program through another university will usually allow you to get equal (or higher) quality credits for your classes. Plus, you can meet a whole new set of people.

However, this is something you will have to clear with your academic advisor way ahead of time. Other schools have different methods of awarding credits, so coordination can be tricky. So, be sure to get a head start on meeting with your advisor and applying to programs.

Can I Study Abroad And Still Graduate On Time?

Again, the short answer is, yes. Most people who study abroad are able to successfully graduate on time. It can even be a GPA and resume booster, if you play your cards right.

However, there is also a long answer (a very long answer), too. You must speak to your academic advisor and clear everything you take ahead of time. There’s usually a much more limited selection of classes. So, you have to pick carefully and plan around it.

All in all, it’s doable, but you need to plan ahead.

How Much Does Study Abroad Really Cost?

The cost of a study abroad program is so much more than just the price tag on the actual semester. You have to consider the costs of flights, travel, dining out, furnishing your dorm, and so many other things.

Many people end up spending thousands of dollars in addition to whatever tuition they paid. There are, of course, ways to do travel on a budget. (There are even guides for study abroad on a budget). So, it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Depending on your desired location, especially if it’s a big city or tourist hotspot, the costs will vary. Be sure to research, at least generally, the costs of living ahead of time.

If you’re planning on making money once you arrive, there’s a whole web of legal hurdles you’ll have to jump through. Some countries don’t allow temporary students to work. Others will place exorbitant taxes on the money you do make. All that’s to say, DON’T count on making money once you’re there.

DO plan on working or otherwise saving up money ahead of time. That way you can book travel plans early to save on flights and accommodations. You can also make a budget for yourself to stay on track.

Having enough money beforehand can really improve the experience. So, if you want to travel a lot, go out with friends, and try new foods, make sure you can afford it before you sign up.

If you think you can balance budgeting, taking the right classes, and have a genuine interest in foreign travel, then study abroad might be right for you. For all your study abroad FAQs, tips, tricks, and more, check out the WayUp Guide right now!

Can I Work While Studying Abroad? Everything You Need To Know About Students Working Overseas

Can I Work While Studying Abroad?

Getting a job while you study abroad is sometimes possible. But it depends on a whole mess of legal issues that depend entirely on the country you’re in and the country you came from. Here at the WayUp Guide, we’ve put together the ultimate explainer to make sure that you can navigate the murky waters of getting a job while studying abroad. We’ll answer all your big questions so that you can get the most out of your time as an expat. You’ll have plenty to consider when it comes to deciding whether you want work while studying abroad.

Is it legal to work while studying abroad?

It can be, yes. A few of the biggest hot spots for North Americans studying abroad do actually allow foreign students to work while they’re there. But many of them have restrictions that make it impossible to do so legally—especially if you’re only there for one semester. And nearly all of them limit the hours you can work to 20 (part-time status).

For example, Australia and New Zealand allow you to work 20-hour weeks while you’re on their student visas. (That said, New Zealand has for more conditions for that work, so please check their local laws here before you go.) 

However, countries like Ireland and the United Kingdom—the latter of which, of course, includes Top 5 Study Abroad location London—limit working under student visas to students spending at least one academic year in the country. That means most one-semester-abroad students are out of luck.

Other countries still have more complicated rules. Take China, which technically allows students on visas to work, given that they fill out a mountain of paperwork and get permission from their university. Some countries require you to take a job that’s in your chosen field of study.

As you can probably tell from this brief list, the laws for working abroad are complicated and region-specific. Check out this neat resource from Go Overseas, which features a table with some laws from the most popular regions. As always, though, be sure to check with the embassy’s site for the final word on current regulations and restrictions.

All of this is for legal working. But many do freelance work like teaching English (or another language), translation, or part-time restaurant/bar work under the table (taking money off the books without official permissions or paying taxes). However, working illegally in a foreign country can constitute tax evasion and violation of other laws. That can carry harsh penalties like huge fines, expulsion from your school, and even jail time. (In case it needs to be said: You obviously shouldn’t work illegally.) Which brings us to…

Can I volunteer while I’m studying abroad?

The short and long answer for this one is YES! Because there’s no exchange of paychecks or taxes involved, volunteer work is largely available to folks with student visas. You might have better luck finding certain types of charities and missions in certain countries or regions. But, generally, whatever country you visit will have charitable organizations ready and willing to accept your help.

If you study abroad in places outside of Western Europe—especially in Africa or South America—where international non-government organizations (NGOs) like the Red Cross and OxFam have an active presence, then it’s going to be easier to find volunteer work and to get involved on a larger scale. However, if you’re jetting off to cities like London, Shanghai, or Prague, your options are going to be more closely aligned with things like soup kitchens and shelters, as they would be in most U.S. cities.

Of course, certain rules and regulations apply in some countries, especially in Asia, so be sure to check with the embassy’s site and your school counselor to make sure any and all programs are safe and legal.

Should you work while studying abroad? Here are the pros and cons.

Working while studying abroad can be an excellent way to meet people outside your normal bubble of “foreign student vacation life.” It can also help you immerse yourself—genuinely—in the culture of wherever you’re staying. Plus, foreign travel is rife with unforeseen costs and expensive vacation plans, so who couldn’t use some extra cash? This kind of entrepreneurial spirit is valued by future employers and gives you a type of life experience most people will never have. That, in turn, can shape you as a person.

However, adding another weight to your scales when you’re already trying to balance making new friends, staying in contact with people at home, going to school, and making sure you get everything you can out of the experience can be tough and take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Who wants to miss out on that awesome weekend trip to Italy, that amazing party in the warehouse club, or that unforgettable museum exhibit because you have deadlines and shifts to pull at work?

Working can be an awesome way to add depth and authenticity to your experience. But truly relying on a part-time job for money while abroad can severely detract from your ability to enjoy your time there. It can also interfere as you try to forge strong connections with your peers. You don’t want to be scrubbing tables while your roommates are making friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something interesting or talk to someone you never would have because of a unique work experience, either.

It’s best to plan (and work as much as you can) ahead of time, so that you can have all the money you need BEFORE you arrive. That way, working is just another optional, enriching part of the experience, and not a cruel necessity robbing you of your precious time abroad and stressing you out.

For more study abroad tips, FAQs, and questions, be sure to check out the WayUp Guide!

Study Abroad 101: Everything You Need To Know

What is study abroad?

Study Abroad or Study Away programs are options provided by universities and colleges to complete a semester, year, or sometimes even more of your degree program on a different campus, usually in a foreign country.

These programs are an excellent opportunity to see a new part of the world, experience a different culture, and TRAVEL. Temporarily relocating to Europe, Asia, or anywhere else means having an excellent opportunity to take advantage of plentiful (and often relatively cheap) travel options. This allows you to maximize your experience and exposure to new places.

How can I sign up?

How do you sign up? Most of the programs are through partnerships your institution has with a program or foreign university. Some schools—like NYU—even have their own global campus locations where they send their students.

However, many schools (even those with programs) allow their students to apply to public or “all inclusive” study abroad programs for students from a variety of institutions. These types of programs are particularly useful for people with a desire to study at a niche location and/or for a specific subject (like going to Pompeii for Archaeology!).

If you type your school’s name and “study abroad,” you will usually be able to find your school’s landing page or study abroad office. From there you’ll be able to sign up for info sessions, schedule an appointment with a study abroad counselor, and—most of the time—apply directly through the site.

Making sure you have the right paperwork for study abroad.

Whether it’s visas, vaccinations, or vacation planning, there’s a ton of documentation that goes along with study abroad.

Living, studying, and (maybe) working in a foreign country adds up to a lot of paperwork. It’s a coordinated effort between two or more governments, universities, parents, doctors, friends, and—most important—you!

Lots of countries require you to have a student visa (although some do not). You can check to see if your desired location does on sites like the State Department’s student visa guide.

You’ll need a visa for not only your desired study location but also any travel/vacation locations. Whether you need an additional visa will depend on the local laws, whether that country has reciprocity with your student visa (some countries in Europe do), and technical details like the duration of your stay.

Beyond visas, you’re going to need an up-to-date passport that won’t expire while you’re abroad. You’ll also want something in addition to your passport (so you don’t have to carry it around all the time). To verify your age at bars, clubs, restaurants, and other places, you should bring your license or government ID card. Places in some countries won’t accept this, so you’ll need a Proof of Age card just in case. (Check your country’s rules on that before you go.)

There are also vaccination and health screening requirements for most countries. That said, you’ll need certified documentation to prove that you’re in the proper shape to live in another place.

Can I work or volunteer while I study abroad?

It all depends on whether your student visa allows you to work or not. Some countries will not allow foreign students to work at all. Others allow foreign students with basic student visas to work. Yet other countries require you to fill out a special application to get permission to work. Be sure to search country- or region-specific working requirements if that’s something you’re interested in.

Even remote work like journalism, video editing, or anything else done entirely digitally requires special permissions to actually get paid while you’re completing the work in another country.

Volunteering while studying abroad is usually a different story, because there’s no salary or paycheck involved. Since there aren’t tax status issues, volunteering is usually available to foreign students. However, some countries do require you to apply to join any organizations. Before you depart, be sure to check your destination’s requirements.

There are also plenty of programs that let you volunteer or work as an English teacher abroad, read more about that here.

However, most students find that between traveling, class, and meeting new people, there isn’t much time for a job—even a part-time one.

For a full guide to study/working abroad, check out this post on the WayUp guide.

Will study abroad credits work with my degree program?

This is why having approval from your university is essential. Make sure your academic advisor is aware of your plans to study abroad as far in advance as possible. That way, you can plan around the limited class options abroad and the standing degree requirements you have to complete before graduation.

Most locations will not have all the classes you need to complete your degree. And some schools won’t accept core requirements done at a non-university program. So you MUST check with your academic advisor. Your school’s study abroad office may be able to help you work with your advisor, fill out forms to become exempt from certain requirements, or clear a certain class abroad with a major or core curriculum requirement.

It’s tricky to plan this far ahead in your academic career. But it’s totally essential if you want to have the best experience and graduate on time.

Study Abroad programs require careful planning, but have a huge payoff.

It’s a big challenge to successfully plan a months-long trip abroad. That’s especially true when you’re going to school, taking trips, and perhaps even working or volunteering. Yet completing something like this will not only enrich your life with a whole host of amazing experiences but also prove that you can handle a major undertaking. Being able to contend with something like this is a significant stepping stone in adult life.

For all your other study abroad questions and more detailed explanations, be sure to check out the WayUp guide for more!

Can I Volunteer While Studying Abroad? Everything You Need To Know About Volunteering Overseas

Is It Possible To Volunteer While Studying Abroad?

Totally, yes. If you can find the right opportunity to volunteer while studying abroad, then you can access a whole world of benefits and new experiences. You’ll get working experience without having to navigate the complex legal jungle of permits, regulations, and foreign tax codes that come along with a paid position. You also get to help and connect with people from circumstances very different than your own. That is a learning experience that has its own immense value.

However, some phony organizations exist that charge foreigners money for empty experiences or lure them into bad situations. That said, knowing what you’re looking for before you arrive is absolutely essential.

To help you get the most out of your study abroad experience, we at the WayUp guide have compiled  everything you need to know about volunteering while studying abroad.

Volunteer Study Abroad Programs Vs. Volunteering While Studying Abroad

Some study abroad programs are designed, from the beginning, to center around a volunteer or humanitarian mission. These programs can be offered by your university and specific school departments or through open organizations like API Study Abroad or International Volunteer HQ.

For programs like these, you’ll usually travel to places with more pressing volunteer needs than large European or Asian metropolises. Some of these programs will offer college credit for the volunteer work in lieu of classes. Others will offer both volunteer work AND classes for credit.

You could be building wells and studying local government policy in rural Indian villages or work on environmental conservation in a village near the Brazilian rain forest. No matter what your major or interest is, there are a ton of opportunities to dive deeper into your academic field and actually affect the lives of others.

These types of programs are designed to make your volunteer effort the centerpiece of your experience. As such, they’re quite different from the latter type of activity: Undertaking a volunteer position or project while you’re on a traditional study abroad program.

This is a more traditional route, similar to getting a part-time job while going to school. You’ll be able to control, for the most part, how much of a time commitment it is. That makes it much more manageable if you have a heavy class load and lots of travel plans. You can usually find these by asking your study abroad campus administration. Luckily, most places will have organizations where they regularly send students, so you’ll know what kind of experience is headed your way.

Volunteering Abroad Safety: Finding A Legitimate, Trusted Program, Organization, Or Project

Unfortunately, there are plenty of for-profit organizations that will do their best to take as much money from you while giving you as little guidance, support, and opportunity as possible. This can be especially dangerous if you’re going to a place with less infrastructure for finding alternate opportunities or connecting with the outside world. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are working with a verified, trusted program that both helps a real cause AND provides you with an enriching experience.

The easiest way to find a trustworthy program is to ask your study abroad office/study abroad counselor if your school has any partnerships with existing programs (This also helps you secure college credit more easily so you can still graduate on time.) Even if they don’t have established partnerships with programs, they might know of other students who have had successful experiences. They might even be able to set you up with someone who could talk to you about the experience.

Going through your school is the best method for safety purposes. It also ensures that you’ll have a point-of-contact at your college to help you if anything goes wrong or the program doesn’t suit you. If your school doesn’t have a study abroad office, your academic advisor or a professor might be able to direct you to an opportunity.

The next best method, if you’re looking for something your school doesn’t necessarily offer, is to use thorough online reviews, forums, and blogs. Sites like Go Overseas or Study Abroad 101 compile trusted reviews and flag recurring issues from participants to help you make your decision. For instance, take this review of API Study Abroad. Things to watch out for are programs that redirect you to local charities without any institutional support and those that lack bureaucracy. Other red flags are exploitative for-profit organizations, programs that don’t give their students/volunteers enough work, programs where there are no other students, and programs that put students in dangerous or unsupervised situations.

It’s not all bad, though. There are thousands of reviews, blogs, and trustworthy sources for finding the right program. You’ll find your fit, just be cautious and thorough!

Benefits Of Volunteering While Studying Abroad

There are so many benefits to getting volunteer experience while you’re abroad. It’ll help your resume, your future job prospects, and your personal development.

Volunteer work is work, and work experience in a foreign country is amazing for your resume. It means you’ve interacted with people from different cultures, possibly have foreign language skills, and possess the entrepreneurial spirit required to seek out work outside the borders of your homeland.

Volunteering while studying abroad shows that you are not someone who is satisfied with being a mere tourist. It will give you a plethora of stories, experiences, and situations you can bring up in future job interviews. Plus, if you ever want to return to your study abroad destination—say London—and work there after graduation, you can say you “have experience working in a British organization.”

Beyond the tangible benefits, volunteer work of any kind, anywhere, exposes you to people outside your normal sphere. This can give you perspective and a sense of purpose that can help define your character for the rest of your life. As the saying goes, to help others is to help yourself.

If you’re interested in learning specifically about teaching English abroad as a volunteer or paid teacher, check out this WayUp Guide post here.

For more study abroad FAQs, tips, and info, check out the WayUp Guide right now!

How to Set Great Internship or Job Goals

Goals are critical to succeeding at your internship or entry-level job for several reasons.

  1. They help you focus on what matters and avoid spending time on fruitless endeavors.
  2. They enable you to track your progress and ensure you’re having the impact you want to have.
  3. They help you align expectations with your manager and stay on the same page.
  4. They allow you to document and demonstrate your effort and impact at the company, which can help you get a raise, promotion, or recommendation.

What Makes a Good Internship or Entry-Level Goal?

First, all goals should be several things:

  1. In your direct control.
    There’s no point in holding yourself accountable for things you can’t control. For example, if you’re in a social media marketing role, you should create a goal around growing the number of engaged followers by 50% instead of a goal to increase the revenue you get from each social media follower.
  2. Measurable.
    Avoid vague goals like “Grow our brand awareness.”. You’ll never know when you achieve vague goals. The easiest way to make goals measurable is to ensure there are numbers attached to them.
  3. Ambitious.
    Your goals should push you. They shouldn’t be easily accomplished. Goals don’t exist to make you feel accomplished. They exist to help you accomplish great things.

In addition, internship goals should have a specific focus on learning. That learning focus can be on you learning whether you want to pursue a career similar to the internship, learning a specific skill, or learning to succeed in a particular professional environment.

Good entry-level job goals aren’t so different in that there should be an emphasis on learning. However, learning cannot be the only goal as your impact is critical to your ability to maintain your career.

How to Choose Your Goals

Setting the best, achievable goals for your internship or entry-level job largely depends on knowing what you want, what you’re capable of, what your role will enable you to reasonably do, and what the company is trying to do. When setting your goals, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions.

First, ask yourself why you accepted this internship or job. This should help you figure out what you should try and learn from it. Understanding your own personal motivation for taking the job should help you set a good personal learning goal.

Second, consider what the company is trying to do. Your goals should benefit you and the company. If your goals don’t align with the company’s goals, then your efforts likely won’t have any impact on the company’s success and you won’t be able to demonstrate your value to the company.

Third, ask yourself what type of impact you’d like to have on the company. What would you be most proud of achieving?

Fourth, examine the responsibilities of the role you have at the company and determine what your role will enable you to achieve. If you’re a sales intern, you probably won’t be super successful at helping the company achieve their engineering-related goals.

Setting the Scope of Your Goals

If you’re a summer intern, you probably shouldn’t have a yearly goal. Instead, you should set a goal for your summer internship.

Entry-level employees should start by trying to set 5 year goals. If you have absolutely no idea where you’d like to be in 5 years and what you’d like to be doing, that’s totally fine; start with 1 year goals instead. From those 1 year goals work backwards into quarterly and monthly goals. Some companies set quarterly goals and some set monthly goals. The scope of your goals should match with your company’s scope.

Internship Goal Examples

  1. Grow Twitter followers by 25% by the end of summer.

    Social Media Marketing Intern

  2. Demo 5 new accounts each week.

    Sales Intern

  3. Write 10 new articles each month.

    Content Marketing Intern

  4. Learn Ruby on Rails and deploy 1 new feature by the end of summer.

    Software Engineering Intern

  5. Have coffee with 1 full-time employee each week.

    Anyone

Entry-Level Job Goal Examples

  1. Create 2 new icons and add them to the icon font each month.

    Visual Designer

  2. Reduce expenses each quarter by 5%.

    Financial Analyst

  3. Retain 80% of part-time volunteers each quarter.

    Non-Profit Volunteer Coordinator

  4. Shadow a different person in their role at the company each month.

    Anyone

Tracking Your Progress

Once you have your goals set, you’ll need to be diligent about tracking your progress. A good rule of thumb is to check in on your status one time dimension below the scope of your goals. For example, you should check on your progress towards any yearly goals every quarter. You should check on any quarterly goals every month. You should check on any monthly goals every week.

Keep track of your progress somewhere digital (a spreadsheet or Google doc are good options). It’s not only important to know whether or not you’re making good progress, but at what rate you’re making progress. This can help you tie the progress to specific actions you took.

Assessing Your Impact

The final, and perhaps the most critical part, of effectively using goals in your internship or entry-level job is to ensure that you take time to reflect on the goals you set. You may have achieved them, or you may not have. Regardless, you should take time to think about:

  1. Did this goal actually measure the impact that you had? Was it a good goal?
  2. Why did you or did you not meet your goal?
  3. Was this goal effective in motivating you?
  4. Should you use this goal again?

Now that you know why goals are a critical part of any internship or entry-level job and how to set good ones, go use your new knowledge! Your manager will be impressed. We promise.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Internship? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

3 Ways To Be More Productive At Work

Whether you’re just starting your first internship or you’re already settled into a full-time job, being productive is something that should be at the top of your mind. Why? Because productivity not only makes you a better employee, it also ensures that you can be successful in your role and advance in your career.

Here are three things you can do to be more productive at work.

1. Have a consistent morning routine

If you’ve ever read about the daily routines of successful entrepreneurs, then you know that most of them have very specific things they do every morning, from answering their emails right when they wake up to making sure that they take the time to exercise. Although you might not consider yourself an entrepreneur like Michael Dell (yet) having a morning routine is important even when you’re just starting out. A good way to create your routine is by figuring out the things that are most important in your day and then prioritizing them accordingly. For example, if you know that creating a to-do list and answering emails first thing in the morning will make your more productive throughout the day, make these tasks part of your morning routine and tackle them before you move on to anything else.

2. Focus on one thing at a time

While multitasking might seem like a great thing in theory, studies have consistently shown that it doesn’t work. What does work is focusing your attention on specific tasks by dividing up up your day into blocks of time. For example, if you’re a social media manager whose day involves creating social media posts, analyzing campaign performance and attending meetings, blocking off time to work on each of those tasks will ensure that you’re able to focus on each one individually and accomplish them effectively. A quick way to do this is by closing out all the tabs and programs you have open on your computer, leaving open only the ones you need for the task at hand.

3. Take breaks and know when to unplug

Taking breaks might seem counterintuitive to productivity, especially during a busy day when you have a lot to do, but they’re actually a great way to recharge your body and reset your mind. A good rule of thumb is to take a 5-10 minute break every hour to stretch your legs and look away from your computer screen. Methods like the Pomodoro Technique can come in handy here, since they’ll help you stay mindful of the passing hours and remind you to take breaks when you need them. Even more important is the idea of totally unplugging once you leave for the day. Although it may be tempting to keep checking your email, doing so will only keep you in work mode longer, making it harder to relax and making you more tired in the meantime. To truly be productive, it’s important to have some time offline every night to focus on other things and recharge for the following day.

Being productive is a great way to be successful in your role and to show your manager that you’re enthusiastic about your job. By following these steps, you’ll be able to get all your work done and still find time to have fun.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Negotiate a Job Offer and find answers to common interview questions such as What Motivates You?

How To Become A Confident Public Speaker

Confidence is a key part of being successful in almost any situation, and it’s especially important when it comes to your professional life. One of the areas where confidence really matters is public speaking. Unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid of public speaking (including seasoned professionals). If you’re among them, don’t worry. With a little bit of practice and preparation, you can conquer your fears and learn how to deliver a powerful and engaging speech.

Here are five tips for becoming a confident public speaker.

1. Have a positive attitude.

Being able to get your message across effectively starts with having a positive attitude. Although this may seem difficult if you’re feeling nervous, it’s actually not as hard as it sounds. The key is to know your goal and to tell yourself that you can do it. For example, if your goal is to present a new strategy to the entire company, reminding yourself that you have the knowledge and the skills to deliver a great speech is crucial to your success. This will help boost your confidence and ensure that you stay positive as you get closer to giving your presentation.

2. Picture a successful outcome.

If you’ve ever heard of athletes who prepare for big games by visualizing success, there’s a good reason for that: it works! The best way to apply this tactic to public speaking is by picturing yourself giving a speech. Picture yourself feeling confident and delivering a speech that you feel good about. Then focus on what part of your visualization makes you feel the most successful. Is it being prepared and knowledgeable about the material? Or maybe it’s the way the audience engages with your speech, smiling and nodding in all the right places. Whatever it is, focus on this feeling of success and keep repeating the visualization until you’re able to convince yourself that the real speech will go just as well.

Pro Tip: Although this exercise should be a positive one, don’t be afraid to do a similar visualization where you picture the worst case scenario. Why? Because this will help prepare you for any curve balls. Although you’re unlikely to encounter any real embarrassment or problems during the speech, seeing it play out in your imagination (and knowing that you can get past it) is a great way to remind yourself that you can handle whatever comes your way.

3. Know what you want to communicate.

Along with building confidence, knowing what you want to communicate is a key component of successful public speaking. The best way to do this is by coming up with a list of 2-3 bullet points that you consider to be the key takeaways of your speech. Then craft your speech with these in mind and practice it several times to ensure that you’re emphasizing these points as effectively as possible.

4. Clear your mind

Once you have you have your speech prepared and you’ve visualized a successful outcome, the next step is being able to clear your mind right before your speech. There are several ways to do this but the most effective is to practice some deep breathing. This works best if done right before the speech. Spend a few minutes breathing in and out slowly and focusing on your breath. This will help clear your mind of any remaining anxiety and will ensure that your mind and body are relaxed as you prepare to start your speech.

5. Connect with the audience.

Along with being calm and prepared, one of the keys to giving a successful speech is being able to connect with your audience. The best way to do this is by making regular eye contact during your speech and by asking questions designed to engage your listeners.

Pro Tip: A great way to practice connecting with your audience is by rehearsing your speech in front of friends. This will ensure that you’re comfortable with the delivery and able to focus on engaging with your audience.

Public speaking is a great skill to have in any professional context and it’s especially impressive for recent grads who are just establishing themselves in their careers. By following these tips and growing your self-confidence, you’ll be able to become a confident public speaker and to impress current and future employers along the way.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Write a Thank You Note After An Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as What Gets You Up in the Morning?

What Does A Day In The Life Of A Communications Specialist Look Like?

From writing press releases to organizing events, communications specialists enjoy a lot of excitement in their day-to-day work. If you’re thinking of working in communications, you might be wondering what a day in the life of a communications specialist looks like: Is it mostly responding to media enquiries or are you more likely to attend a lot of meetings? The answer depends on your specific role. However, although the tasks might vary from one day to the next, most communications specialists do a combination of the following things:

Responding to media enquiries

One of the key aspects of a communications specialist’s job is to respond to incoming media enquiries. This can include setting up interviews or handling questions about a potential company problem. Whatever the case, communications specialists are responsible for always putting their best foot forward. They also must always act with the company’s best interest in mind.

Crafting press releases and other types of content

Communications specialists are in charge of creating various types of content. That said, they must also ensure that messaging is consistent and in line with company policies. As such, communications specialists often spend time writing, editing, and sharing content with different audiences. This can include the media or the company’s clients

Meeting with teams within the company to provide communications training

For communications specialists who focus on internal communication, providing communications training is an important part of the role. This includes ensuring that employees are aware of key phrases the organization uses when referring to itself. It also means educating employees on the importance of an integrated communications strategy. This ensures they best represent the company when talking to customers or the public.

Organizing events

Another important part of a communication specialist’s day is organizing events. These events can range from fundraisers hosted by the company on behalf of a charity and public events designed to build relationships between the company and their customers. Above all, communications specialists are responsible for ensuring that these events are covered by media outlets and that the generate positive buzz around the company.

A diverse and exciting career, communications offers a lot of opportunities for growth while giving you the skills you need to succeed in your role.