Are you LinkedIn? 6 reasons to set up a profile today

Reading Time: 4 minutes Creating and updating a LinkedIn profile is advantageous for students. Here’s how to make LinkedIn work for you.

Take a nap or push on through?

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What’s in a nap? If you’re doing it right, napping brings a bunch of benefits: improved learning ability, memory, alertness, physical and mental stamina, and relief from stress. To avoid grogginess and other possible side effects, however, you need to be strategic about napping. This flowchart helps you figure out whether a nap will work for you or against you.

What are you hoping a nap will do for you?

Napping can make you smarter and improve your performance and alertness on the job. It can help you learn more, remember what you’re studying, and feel better.

Napping improves learning and memory:
  • College students with GPAs of 3.5 and higher were much more likely to be nappers than were their peers with lower GPAs in a 2010 study in Sleep and Breathing.
  • A 10-minute nap significantly improved alertness and cognitive performance in young adults, according to a 2001 study in the Journal of Sleep Research.
  • Napping for 90 minutes improves young adults’ capacity to learn, a small 2010 study found.
  • Napping is generally more effective than caffeine, especially for memory improvement, according to a 2008 study in Behavioral Brain Research.

Other effects

Napping improves tolerance and decision-making

In a 2015 study, participants who napped for an hour in the afternoon were better able to tolerate frustration and less prone to impulsive decision-making compared to the non-nappers, according to the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Napping relieves stress

A 45- to 60-minute nap reduced the effects of stress in undergraduate students in a 2011 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The students recovered from a stressor more quickly than stressed students who didn’t nap.

Napping improves physical performance

Athletes had quicker reaction times and performed better after a one-hour nap, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Shangqiu Normal University.

If you’re looking to make all your troubles go away, napping isn’t the answer.

“Sleep can be a great way to help yourself if you’re sick, but it’s not the best way to cope with tough times,” says Dr. Sharon Sevier, chair of the board of directors of the American School Counselor Association. “When you’re asleep, you’re avoiding your problems, but when you’re awake, you can get the support you need from yourself and others.”

Need to compensate for missed sleep?

Skimping on sleep seriously affects our performance—and makes us oblivious to just how poorly we’re doing. That’s according to a 2003 study in which researchers at the University of Pennsylvania restricted people’s sleep. Even as the participants became less able to sustain their attention and succeed at memory tasks, they insisted they had adjusted to the shorter sleep hours, according to the journal Sleep.

Expecting a late night?

If you’re expecting to be up later than usual that night, planned napping—taking a nap before you get sleepy—may help. Remember, though, that all-nighters are highly disruptive to your body and mind. Sleep-deprived cramming is unlikely to help you perform better on tests, research shows.

Don’t take a nap this time. SORRY.

Are you low on energy and planning to drive?

GO FOR IT. Take that nap.

If you’re sleepy and planning to drive, take an emergency nap.

This is critical. Sleep-deprived drivers are as dangerous as drunken drivers, according to a study in the journal Nature (1997). Napping improves our alertness and reaction times. Pilots who nap during flights are better at landing planes, according to a classic study in the Journal of Sleep Research.

If you feel sleepy while driving…

Pull into a safe, well-lit area, such as a rest stop or restaurant parking lot, and take a 15- to 20-minute nap minute nap, says the National Sleep Foundation.

If you can’t nap before driving long distances, and are not really tired, use caffeine.

Long-distance commercial drivers who used caffeinated substances were less likely to crash their vehicles than those who didn’t, a 2013 study in The BMJ found. But if you’re really tired, caffeine is not enough. Don’t drive.

What’s the time?

The best time to nap is in the early afternoon: 1–3 p.m.

Fortunately, this is probably when you most want to snooze. “This sleepiness comes from a true physiologic process, because we have a dip in the alerting signal of our circadian rhythm,” says Dr. Shelley Hershner, director of the Collegiate Sleep Disorder Clinic at the University of Michigan (quoted on the graduate school website).

Napping later than 3 p.m., however, could set you up for a wakeful night. Try another way to pick up your energy:

  • Snack on vegetables, fruit, beans, and nuts. The nutrients in these food groups are natural energy boosters, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Drink water or herbal tea. Dehydration can cause fatigue, according to dietitians at the University of Michigan. From midafternoon onward, avoid caffeine; that will keep you up at night, too.
  • Don’t just sit there. A few jumping jacks or yoga moves, or a quick walk, will help you feel more alive. Even a 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, says the National Health Service in the UK.

Nap wheel: What’s your ideal nap time? 

Don’t take a nap this time. SORRY.

How much time do you have for a nap?

You need at least 10 minutes, and sometimes that’s enough. Even brief naps can result in measurable performance improvements, research shows. “Did you know that a six-minute nap increased subjects’ memorization of a list of words by 11 percent? Hey, most of us would be happy to take a letter grade higher, especially for a 10-minute investment in time,” writes Dr. Shelley Hershner of the University of Michigan (on the graduate school website, referencing the Journal of Sleep Research, 2008). Allow a few extra minutes for falling asleep.

If you don’t have time to nap, caffeine might help. Caffeine does not have the same brain benefits as napping, but it makes us feel more physically awake (because napping can induce grogginess), according to a 2008 study in Behavioral Brain Research. 

But the same time limit applies: Don’t consume caffeine after 3 p.m., or you risk your nighttime sleep.

Do you have more than 10 minutes?
The optimal length of a nap is disputed. Check out these options, then see what works for you.

Up to half an hour

Napping for 10–30 minutes gets you some brain benefits without inducing grogginess, so how do you wake up on time? Some studies have found benefits in “coffee naps.” If you’re confident you can fall asleep quickly, try drinking a cup of coffee and taking your nap; around 25 minutes in, the caffeine will kick in and wake you. A small study in the journal Ergonomics suggested coffee naps may be more effective for alertness and performance than napping alone.

Up to an hour

Some evidence suggests we can nap for up to an hour without feeling that grogginess and inertia. In a 2012 study, naps of 40 and 60 minutes allowed for more slow-wave (deep) sleep and led to bigger performance improvements than 20-minute naps did, according to Chronobiology International.

Up to 90 minutes

A typical sleep cycle (incorporating deep sleep and REM sleep) takes about 90 minutes. In studies, naps of 60 or 90 minutes have resulted in greater benefits for visual and memory tasks, compared with shorter naps.

Be wary of napping beyond 90 minutes. If you nap longer, “it’s harder to wake up and leaves you groggy because you’ve interrupted a sleep cycle,” says Nancy H. Rothstein, director of corporate sleep programs at Circadian, a workplace performance and safety consultancy based in Massachusetts.

Don’t take a nap this time. SORRY.

Are you having trouble sleeping at night?

If you’re having difficulty falling asleep at night, a nap will likely make that worse.

Do you have insomnia?

Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night, accompanied by daytime exhaustion, that is not explained by lifestyle and behavioral factors. It can be related to stress, transitions, psychiatric conditions, medications, or substance use. Most adults experience insomnia at some point in their lives, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you are having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, behavioral changes can help, such as being physically active during the day and avoiding stimulating activities (including screen use) close to bedtime.

Insomnia treatment

If you think you are experiencing insomnia, talk with your health care provider or go to your counseling center. Medication may help in the short term. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a proven treatment for insomnia, and can be effectively delivered in the traditional therapeutic setting or online, according to the Journal of Psychology Research and Behavioral Management (2011).

More about insomnia

Don’t take a nap this time. SORRY.

 

Do you have access to a quiet, comfortable location?

GO FOR IT. Take that nap.

A promising nap environment looks like this:

  • You can lie down; it’s harder to fall asleep when you’re sitting up.
  • You have a blanket nearby in case you get cold, but you won’t get so warm and comfy that it’s a struggle to get up.
  • You can darken the room or use an eye mask.
  • You won’t be disturbed by noise; if necessary, use headphones or a noise machine.

Bonus! Some colleges provide napping stations for students.

Don’t take a nap this time. SORRY.

[survey_plugin] Article sources


Shelley Hershner, MD, director, Collegiate Sleep Disorder Clinic, University of Michigan.

Nancy H. Rothstein, director, corporate sleep programs, Circadian, Massachusetts.

Sharon Sevier, PhD, chair, board of directors, American School Counselor Association.

Ackerman, J., & Zarracina, J. (n.d.). How to nap. [Infographic]. Boston Globe. Retrieved from: https://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/naps/

American College Health Association. (Spring 2014). National College Health Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_ExecutiveSummary_Spring2014.pdf

Anwar, Y. (2010). An afternoon nap markedly boosts the brain’s learning capacity. Berkeley News. Retrieved from https://news.berkeley.edu/2010/02/22/naps_boost_learning_capacity/

Bonnet, M. H., & Arand, D. L. (1994). The use of prophylactic naps and caffeine to maintain performance during a continuous operation. Ergonomics, 37(6), 1009–1020.

Borbély, A. (1982). A two-process model of sleep regulation. Human Neurobiology, 1(3), 195–204.

Brindle, R. C., & Conklin, S. (2012). Daytime sleep accelerates cardiovascular recovery after psychological stress. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 19(1), 111–114.

Dawson, D., & Reid, K. (1997). Fatigue, alcohol, and performance impairment. Nature, 388, 235.

Eliasson, A. H., Lettieri, C. J., & Eliasson, A. H. (2010). Early to bed, early to rise! Sleep habits and academic performance in college students. Sleep and Breathing, 14(1), 71–75.

Fenn, K. M., Nusbaum, H. C., & Margoliash, D. (2003). Consolidation during sleep of perceptual learning of spoken language. Nature, 425(6958), 614–616.

Goldschmied, J. R., Cheng, P., Kemp, K., Caccamo, L., et al. (2015). Napping to modulate frustration and impulsivity: A pilot study. Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 164–167.

Hershner, S. (2014). How to nap. University of Michigan. Retrieved from https://www.rackham.umich.edu/blog/how-nap

Hershner, S. (2014). Why you should nap. University of Michigan. Retrieved from https://www.rackham.umich.edu/blog/why-you-should-nap

Jamieson-Petonic, A. (2013). 5 ways to fight fatigue with food. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/05/5-ways-to-fight-fatigue-with-food/

Lahl, O., Wispel, C., Willigens, B., & Pietrowsky, R. (2008). An ultra-short episode of sleep is sufficient to promote declarative memory performance. Journal of Sleep Research, 17(1), 3–10.

Lo, J. C., Dijk, D. J., & Groeger, J. A. (2014). Comparing the effects of nocturnal sleep and daytime napping on declarative memory consolidation. PLoS ONE, 9(9).

Mayo Clinic. (November 21, 2012). Napping: Do’s and don’ts for healthy adults. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/napping/art-20048319

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Insomnia. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/basics/definition/con-20024293

Mednick, S. C., Cai, D. J., Kanady, J., & Drummond, S. (2008). Comparing the benefits of caffeine, naps, and placebo on verbal, motor, and perceptual memory. Behavioral Brain Research, 193(1), 79–86.

Mulrine, H. M., Signal, T. L., van den Berg, M. J., & Gander, P. H. (2012). Post-sleep inertia performance benefits of longer naps in simulated nightwork and extended operations. Chronobiology International, 29(9), 1249–1257.

National Health Service. (2015). Self-help tips to fight fatigue. Retrieved from: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/self-help-energy-tips.aspx

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National Sleep Foundation. (2015). How much sleep do we really need? Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Rosekind, M. R., Smith, R. M., Miller, D. L., Co, E. L., et al. (1995). Alertness management: Strategic naps in operational settings. Journal of Sleep Research, 4(S2), 62–66.

Sharwood, L., Elkington, J., Meuleners, L., Ivers, R., et al. (2013). Use of caffeinated substances and risk of crashes in long-distance drivers of commercial vehicles: Case-control study. British Medical Journal, 346.

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Van Dongen, H. P., Maislin, G., Mullington, J. M., & Dinges, D. F. (2003). The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: Dose-response effects on neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation. Sleep, 26(2), 117–26.

Walker, M. P., & Stickgold, R. (2004). Sleep-dependent learning and memory consolidation. Neuron, 44(1), 121–133.

Yan, L., & Zhou, Y. (2013). Effect of nap on physical function after sport training for athletes. Journal of Shangqiu Normal University, 2013(3).

How to pay for school when you can’t

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Paying for college sure can induce a sense-of-humor failure. But at Student Health 101 we had to find an upside, so here it is: The cost of higher education is an opportunity to build certain vital life skills—like stress management, financial self-empowerment, damage limitation, and problem solving. We’re confident these skills will be at least as valuable to you as your degree is. To get started, check out what students wish they’d known about loans, scholarships, and grants.

Student loans come in many shapes and sizes

“I wish I would have done my research and realized sooner that there are multiple options.”
—Graduate student, University of Wyoming

  • The federal government offers several types of student loans.
  • Private student loans are provided by banks, credit unions, state agencies, and other lenders.
  • All loans must be repaid.

Gobbledegook overwhelm?

“I wish I’d known more about what different things mean: variable interest rates, deferment, deferral, etc.”
—Graduate student, Suffolk University, Massachusetts

dollar signTranslate loan language into English

Checklist

“Look at when the interest starts accruing, how much interest will accrue in school and later, and how long it will take to pay it off at what monthly payments.”
—Undergraduate, University of Alaska Anchorage

  • Know when you’ll be expected to start making payments.
  • Know what your minimum payments will be.
  • Know whether your interest rate is fixed (never changes) or variable.
  • Know when interest will start to accrue.
  • Know your grace period (how long until you’ll start making payments).
  • Know whether your loan gets you a tax deduction.

Subsidized vs. unsubsidized

“[I didn’t know] the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized government loans, as well as the payback rules.”
—Undergraduate, Utah State University

  • The federal government provides subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
  • Direct subsidized loans are available to undergraduates in financial need. The interest is paid by the government until you’re done with school.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need.

Get organized

“I wish I had known to start that spreadsheet immediately.”
—Undergraduate, Santa Clara University, California

  • Keep track of loan amounts, providers, etc. This helps with your taxes, loan repayments, and self-empowerment.
  • Read the info carefully. Don’t miss a deadline.
  • If possible, start paying on the interest as a student to keep rates lower later.
  • Routinely track your spending.

dollar signOrganizational tools & tips

Reconsider how much you need

“I didn’t have to accept the loan in full. If I had known this I may have borrowed less.”
—Undergraduate, University of Montana–Western

  • Check out the “cost of attendance” info on your school website.
  • Take out as few student loans as possible.

dollar signCalculate your needs

Don’t miss your repayments

“Even if your mom pays your loan, it’s still in your name. Make sure she makes those payments on time!”
—Undergraduate, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota

If you don’t pay on your loan, you will go into default. This can negatively affect your credit score and reduce your options for getting a cell phone, or buying or renting a place to live.

dollar signInfo on defaulting

dollar signOptions for if you can’t pay

Scholarships

“I wish I’d known how readily available scholarships are, if you just look for them.”
—Student, Normandale Community College, Minnesota

Student story
Felecia Hatcher was awarded $130,000 in scholarships. Her advice: Focus on what you’re great at or what you love, and apply for local scholarships: “The pool is so much smaller.” Hatcher is author of The “C” Students Guide to Scholarships (Peterson’s, 2011).

  • Scholarships are usually merit-based. Some scholarships support students facing challenges or contributing to their communities, or employees of certain companies.
  • Scholarships don’t need to be paid back.
  • Check regularly for opportunities others miss with the office of financial aid or the scholarship office, and online.
  • Apply for scholarships every year, even if it didn’t work out last time.

Grants & paid positions

“I wish I had known a way to avoid having to take out loans in the first place.”
—Undergraduate, Humboldt State University, California

  • Grants provide free* money for college (*usually).
  • The federal government offers grants based on need. You will need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • Check for grants with your office of financial aid or the scholarship office, and your academic department.
  • Also look for grants from your state or local government, non-profit organizations, and research and travel programs.
  • Apply for grants every year, even if it didn’t work out last time.
  • Ask about work-study jobs, residential advisor (RA) positions, and other paid part-time roles.

dollar signScholarships & grants

Essential info from the US Dept. of Education:

dollar signTypes of federal loans

dollar signFederal vs. private loans

dollar signLoan subsidies

dollar signRepayments and grace periods

dollar signCalculate repayment timeline

dollar signFAFSA info

Students’ stories

"I wish I’d seen the big picture"

“I knew in high school that a family member was going to cover all my expenses for college, so I didn’t pay attention when they were explained my senior year. But after two years there was family drama and they dropped my funding. I had about a month to learn everything I needed to know about loans and get two federal direct loans and a private loan. Should have paid attention.”
—Undergraduate, Pacific Lutheran University, Washington

“I just wish I had applied for more scholarships. It took me until grad school to start doing that.”
—Graduate student, University of Southern Maine

“’I didn’t realize how easy it was to just accept [loans] and how hard it was to pay them off. The available amount looks great but just makes you stuck with more debt!”
—Graduate student, California State University, San Marcos

“I wish I would have known about alternatives before I signed away to be in debt.”
—Graduate student, California State University, San Bernardino

“[I wish I’d known] community college is cheaper and I could work before I got to school. Also the average amount of years it would take a person in my financial situation to pay off a loan of the size that I took out.”
—Undergraduate, Western Illinois University

"I wish I’d known this earlier"

Without looking it up, could you say how long it will take you to pay off your loan?

  • Yes: 55%
  • Guesstimate: 27%
  • No idea: 18%

Source: Student Health 101 survey, August 2015. 950+ students answered this question.

 “I wish I’d known that I should pay off unsubsidized loans before subsidized loans.”
—Undergraduate, Western Washington University

“I wish I’d known that each student is allotted a certain amount of federal aid for the whole course of his/her undergrad education, which means students have the potential to run out of federal aid if they need an extra year or two.”
—Undergraduate, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

“I wish I’d known about income-based repayment plans. If so, I would not have had semesters with no textbooks or a shortage of toilet paper.”
—Graduate student, Western Illinois University

“I wish I [knew] the importance of paying off the principal as I attended school. This really helps in the long run!”
—Undergraduate, University of Wyoming

“I wish I knew how much I owe, how to pay it off as I go, how much they’re growing in interest, and how long it will take me to pay off!”
—Undergraduate, Roger Williams University, Rhode Island

"What I’d do differently"

How quickly could you locate the details of your student loans?

  • Right now; it’s all in one place: 54%
  • Give me an hour; it’s sort of organized: 32%
  • Give me a day; I’d need to search: 11%
  • Help! Could be anywhere: 3%

Source: Student Health 101 survey, August 2015. 950+ students answered this question.

“Don’t lose your login information. Phoning student loan help is basically useless.”
—Undergraduate, Mount Royal University, Alberta

“I wish I’d tracked the total amount. I had so many smallish loans that when I graduated and got the total I was shocked. Way higher than expected.”
—Graduate student, Husson University, Maine

Budget smartly and know the benefits of having a savings account.”
—Undergraduate, Humboldt State University, California

“[I wasn’t aware of] the high interest rate. I should’ve saved up while I had the chance rather than buying those shoes I wanted.”
—Undergraduate, University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley

Vote for a legislature and government officials who will work for lowering student loan interest rates.”
—Graduate student, University of the Pacific, California


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Communicate like a pro

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Professional communication skills are for everyone. Interacting with others in an internship, job, or classroom is different from hanging out with family and friends. Here are some tips to improve your professional communication. While you’re in college, find opportunities to practice: internships, part-time jobs, and interactions with mentors and professors.

Listen/observe first

You’ve heard the saying that we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak. Listening and observing can help you learn the norms of an organization. Pay attention to things like:

  • Facial expression
  • Tone of voice
  • Gestures
  • What others in the room are doing

Ask questions

Asking questions can help to clarify your understanding. It also shows that you’re paying attention. Open-ended questions tend to yield more information and prevent misinterpretation; they require more than a “yes” or “no” response. Start questions with words like who, what, when, where, why, and how. Examples include:

  • “What do you think about this project?”
  • “How do you think the clients will
    respond to our request?”
  • “Why do you expect that outcome?”
  • “How did you come to that conclusion?”

Use “I” statements

The use of “I” statements conveys what you are thinking or feeling in a nonconfrontational manner. It also conveys ideas in a clear way. Here are some examples of “I” statements:

  • “I think that I might be misunderstanding the goal.”
  • ‘I’m wondering if that’s the most direct way to do this.”
  • “When I think I’m not being heard, I think about how I’m saying it.”
  • “My concern is delays that may be outside our control.”

Learn the accepted norms in your team

Some teams have weekly check-in meetings. Some communicate only by phone or email—for others, it’s face-to-face.

In addition to the above tips, these ideas can also be helpful:

  • Use professional language. Refer to people as “Professor,” “Mr./Mrs.,” or “Colleagues.” Starting emails with “Hey” might not be smart in a professional setting.
  • Check spelling and grammar before hitting Send.
  • Make sure you spelled the person’s name correctly.

More tips to get you communicating professionally

World environment day

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June 5 is World Environment Day, an event created by the World Health Organization to raise awareness and action for the environment. It serves as a “people’s day” to show the impact that we individuals can have on the environment—and how the collective power of everyone working together can make a difference.

You might be asking yourself: What kind of difference can one person make? A big one! Here are some ideas for things you can do to affect the environment in a positive way:

  • Pick up litter you see on campus.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  • Walk to class (instead of taking your car), or take the campus bus.
  • Limit showers to seven minutes or less. Not only will the environment thank you, but so will everyone else in your residence hall.
  • Shop local. Does your city have a farmer’s market? Summer is the perfect time to buy fruits and vegetables from a local farmer.
  • Organize a tree-planting drive (with approval from your school/city first).
  • Share your pictures on social media.
  • Start a recycling drive.

Planned an event? Register it here

More info on World Environment Day

(Emotionally) safer sex

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sexual relationships involve emotional vulnerability. We asked more than 300 students how they feel about this and how they protect themselves from potential hurt.

1 in 3 students (67 percent) pointed to the value of clear communication:

“It does become a problem when the people have two different thoughts on the situation. Like one being in it just for the sex but the other one would want a relationship.”
—Nathanael T., second-year undergraduate, Park University, Missouri

“It’s very special to open up to someone in this way, and as a result, I am more emotionally vulnerable. That just means it’s easier to talk about deep topics, socialize with others, and open up to the world around me.”
—Daryn O., first-year undergraduate, Metropolitan State University of Denver

More than half of students (56 percent) said they manage their expectations:

“If one is able to [develop] a set of expectations that are not too high, there could not be any chance of excess vulnerability.”
—Heidi M., third-year undergraduate, University of Maine

4 out of 10 students (43 percent) said they’ve learned from difficult experiences and bring that knowledge
to future relationships:

“I was with a guy that wasn’t right for me, and I didn’t have the clarity of mind to see all the reasons to leave because of the hold he had on me based on our sexual activity. I would characterize that as emotionally vulnerable. I’m much stronger without him.”
—Amber F.*, fourth-year undergraduate student, Wayne State College, Nebraska

3 out of 10 students stay abstinent or avoid
sexual activity:

“No, I honestly haven’t [experienced vulnerability from sex]. I’m at the end of a six-month vow of celibacy.”
—Tomas D*., fifth-year undergraduate student, Towson University, Maryland

About 15 percent of students said they almost deliberately don’t invest in the relationship:
“I do not get attached to many people. They come and go, and that’s life.”
—Nickolas R., second-year undergraduate, Illinois State University

*  Name changed for privacy

Other strategies that students use:

Specific strategies for managing difficult feelings,
such as mindfulness techniques
30%
Talking with trusted friends or family members 52%
Talking with a counselor 13%

Source: Student Health 101 survey, January 2015

Young Americans reinvent spirituality and religion

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Young adults in the US are increasingly likely to identify with more than one religious or spiritual tradition. One in five college students who responded to a recent Student Health 101 survey considered themselves multifaith, meaning they embrace a blend of religious and spiritual influences.

In most cases, US students complemented Christianity with Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Native American practices, or another tradition. “I believe in Christianity, but I also believe in the love and empathy I’ve learned through studying Buddhism, as well as the five pillars of Islamic faith. I essentially practice whatever I think will make me a better, more caring, understanding, and compassionate person,” says Michaela D., a second-year undergraduate at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

  • Sixteen percent of Americans identify as multifaith, according to a 2014 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).
  • Nearly 1 in 3 Americans say they explore the spiritual ideas or practices of other religious faiths sometimes or often.
  • 4 in 10 Americans say they meditate at least once a week.

Americans’ increasing familiarity with minority religions is due partly to the rise of interfaith marriage: 1 in 4 marriages involve a couple of different religious backgrounds, according to the 2012 General Social Survey.

The three most common blendings in our student survey:

  • Judaism-Christianity: The Hebrew Bible shares many sources with the Christian Bible. The two religions have similar theology on some points, including the legitimacy of Biblical prophets, belief in angels and demons, and worship of the God of Abraham.
  • Judaism-Buddhism: This pairing dates to the 19th
    century. An estimated 30 percent of western
    Buddhists are of Jewish heritage. Buddhism provides a connection to mystical aspects of theology that some believe Judaism lacks.
  • Buddhism-Christianity: Buddhism’s meditation practices can help Christians find greater satisfaction in prayer. Buddhism allows flexibility of belief, so
    Buddhists can draw from Christian moral teachings.

Know your networking needs

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The richest people in the world look for networks, and everyone else looks for work—or so it’s been said. Networking can help you find a job, a leadership position, an on-campus research opportunity, and more. But what is networking? The concept seems both obvious and abstract. And how should you do it?

What is networking?

Networking is interacting with others to exchange information and contacts. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive.

Be warned: People can sense desperation a mile away. If you enter a situation with only one goal in mind (making a connection you can later use to your advantage), people will know.

Networking tips

  • Network before you need a network. Set the groundwork early with professors, supervisors (in jobs and internships), and other professionals on campus.
  • Don’t focus on your personal agenda.
  • Treat everyone respectfully. If you think someone is “just” a clerk or assistant, you risk getting a reputation for acting entitled.
  • Make two meaningful connections each semester. If you do that, you’ll have a bunch of contacts by the time you graduate.
  • Keep in touch! Be sure to keep in touch with your network: Ask what’s new with them and share your updates. Your contacts will remember you and can help make connections if something comes up.
  • Start building your profile on LinkedIn, and develop it through your student career by adding projects and relevant experiences.

Need more advice? These resources can help improve your networking skills.

Random acts of kindness week

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How are you honoring Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 9-15)? Most people would agree that kindness has many benefits. Did you know it’s good for your health? It’s true: Kindness relieves stress. Kindness also improves mental health, test scores, and behavior. It’s contagious: Kindness leads to more kindness.

So what are some simple acts of kindness you can do every day? Try these:

  • Walk a dog for a local senior (especially if it’s snowing, wet, or icy)
  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Pay it forward when buying coffee, donuts, or lunch
  • Tell people how great they are
  • Collect jeans for homeless youth or cell phones for domestic abuse survivors
  • Let someone in line in front of you
  • Be warm and supportive online
  • Donate used textbooks and sporting equipment
  • Become an organ donor
  • Smile at strangers
  • Don’t litter (and pick up other people’s litter)

Could you help a friend with an eating disorder?

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Eating disorders are serious health conditions that require medical attention and personal and professional support. It’s estimated that in the US, 20 million women and 10 million men will have an eating disorder at some point in their life. To increase the chances of recovery, early detection and intervention is key.

Symptoms vary according to the type of eating disorder. The signs can include:

  • Not eating enough
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Frequent periods of eating large amounts of food (which may or may not be followed by behaviors to stop weight gain, like induced vomiting)
  • Feelings of shame or guilt around eating

How to help a friend

If you’re worried a friend might have an eating disorder, here’s what you can do to help:

  • Be honest with your friend that you’re concerned. You could say something like, “I’m concerned about you, because you don’t eat breakfast or lunch.”
  • Don’t make promises or threats, e.g., “If you don’t get help, I won’t speak to you again”
  • Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements (which imply blame). E.g., avoid saying “You just need to eat” or “You are acting irresponsibly”.
  • Compliment your friend on their accomplishments and successes.
  • Express your support.  Let your friend know you are there to help/talk.
  • Ask for help! You’re not expected to have all the answers. If you need advice or help, talk to your school’s health or counseling center.

MORE INFO: National Eating Disorders Association

Give your heart on Valentine’s Day

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More than 120,000 people in the US are waiting for an organ: parents, children, college students, grandparents, and others. By signing up to be an organ donor, you have the power to save a life. Actually, several lives: one organ donor can save up to eight people. There are misconceptions about being an organ donor, so let’s check the facts:

  • If you are sick or injured and are admitted to a hospital, the #1 priority is to save your life.
  • Most major religions in the US support organ donation.
  • Being an organ donor doesn’t cost any money to you or your family.
  • When matching donors and recipients, several factors are considered, including severity of illness, blood type, and other important medical information. Race and celebrity status aren’t relevant.

How do I sign up?

Registering as an organ donor is easy. Sign up in your state.

How can I save a life today?

Donate blood! It’s easy and free. First time donor? Here’s what you need to know:

  • Every two seconds, someone in the US needs a blood transfusion.
  • The most common blood type requested by hospitals is Type O–but all blood types are needed.
  • You can donate blood every six to eight weeks, which is the time it takes for your body to replenish the red cells used in the donation.
  • You can’t contract HIV from donating blood.
  • While the blood is tested for disease, donating blood is not the same as getting tested for HIV/AIDS (if you are at risk for HIV/AIDS, you shouldn’t donate blood). If you want to be tested for HIV, visit your student health center.

The hazards of mixing with Molly

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The drug “Molly” has been around for years. Maybe not in the same pure form, though. These days, Molly is usually mixed with other substances, and that’s what ramps up the risk.

Who or what is Molly?

Molly (short for molecular) is a psycho-stimulant. It’s a powder or capsule form of MDMA, the same chemical that’s in Ecstasy. Molly increases activity in three of the brain’s neurotransmitters—serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine—triggering heightened emotional, sexual, and trusting feelings, and sensory distortions.

When Molly gets miserable

After that surge of feel-good chemicals, the brain can run into problems. For users, this can mean confusion, depression, sleep difficulties, drug cravings, and anxiety. These other side effects are not so cute on the dance floor:

  • Involuntary teeth clenching
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chills or sweating

Molly mixes with the wrong sort

It’s rare to find pure Molly these days. It tends to be mixed with other substances, including methamphetamine, caffeine, heroin, ketamine (the anesthetic), or cocaine. Combining these can increase the risk of side effects, and could lead to other problems, such as overdose.

For more on Molly