5 Tips to Stop Sunday Procrastination

It’s Sunday morning. You’ve made it to the library, your schedule is totally clear for the day, and you’re planning to make a major dent in your work for the week. Before you start, you just want to quickly check Facebook in case anyone has posted photos from that party last night…

Next thing you know, it’s 4pm and all you’ve done is open your stats textbook to the correct page. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. To help you avoid those all-nighters, here are 5 tips to stop your Sunday procrastination:

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Split up the Work

It can be overwhelming to see all the work you have in front of you. Where do you even start? Your assignments can feel a lot less daunting if you break them down into smaller subtasks. Rather than thinking about an entire essay you need to write, it’s way more manageable to first focus on creating an outline.

Give Yourself a Break

No one can focus for hours at a time – you end up not working effectively. Heading to the gym, or even a brisk 5 minute walk outside the library will keep you refreshed, alert, and ready to jump back into studying. Another good idea is meeting your friends for a meal at the cafeteria – it’s a great break from the library and a chance to grab something other than coffee, redbull, and vending machine snacks.

Prepare to Focus

Don’t tell yourself that you can be productive while doing homework in your bed. Next thing you know, you’ll be re-watching the entire first season of Breaking Bad under the covers. Head to the library, a quiet study area, or at the very least, sit at a desk. With fewer distractions around and a focused mindset, you’ll be less inclined to procrastinate.

Treat Yourself

You need some motivation to keep focused on a grueling day of homework. Try rewarding yourself every time you cross something off your to-do-list or finish a task in the hour of time you gave yourself. Good study rewards could be checking your Instagram and other social media accounts, taking a lap around the library to chat with friends, or even watching a quick episode of your most recent Netflix addiction.

Use Some Self Control

If you can, keep that laptop closed! You’re going to get a lot less done if you’re scanning Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit every five minutes. If you need to use more drastic measures, try out “Self Control App” on the iTunes store. You can block your favorite, time-wasting websites and set a timer for how long they’re off-limits. Not even deleting the app will get those sites unblocked for you.

5 Study Snacks to Bring to the Library

The first day of the semester is a distant memory, and the library now feels like home. Eating certain foods can help you improve your study focus, retain more information and stay mentally alert throughout your gruelling study sessions. These brain food snacks will satisfy your growling stomach and help you get better grades.

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Binge on Blueberries

Evidence from Tufts University suggests that eating blueberries may help to delay short term memory loss, so all those flash cards won’t be forgotten the moment you walk into your exam.

Crunch Some Broccoli

Broccoli is a known source of vitamin K, which enhances brainpower and cognitive function. Pair it with some hummus to help keep you full longer and prevent any embarrassingly noisy stomach grumbles.

Treat Yourself To Dark Chocolate

Resist that Snickers bar in the vending machine, and stick to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is jam-packed with antioxidants and has enough caffeine to help you stay awake. Plus, as an added bonus, the smell of chocolate triggers relaxation in the brain.

Go Nuts

Many types of nuts contain essential fatty acids to help boost your brainpower. They’re also high in iron to help increase your mental alertness and ability to retain information. And they’re easily transported and full of protein to help keep you full and uninterrupted.

An Apple a Day

Eating an apple a day will keep the doctor away, and it is also a great power snack for studying. Apple peels contain powerful antioxidants called quercetin that help enhance memory function.

Let us know what your favorite study fuel is!

Midterms are coming…

Midterms, like Halloween, are just around the corner. As much as you may feeling like hiding under the covers, there’s no need to hide if you’re prepared.

Midterms are almost always stressful. You live in the library and run on little sleep…and a lot of caffeine. Relax, take a deep breath, and follow these four helpful tips to overcome midterm craziness and ace your exams.

1. Study a little bit each day

Start early instead of waiting to cram the night before the test. This will allow you to study in small, manageable amounts — which helps you retain more information and reduces stress.

Commit to a short time window when you’ll study each day; even 15 minutes is better than nothing. This can mean organizing your notes, creating study guides, or completing practice problems.


2. Review past notes, assignments and homework

Which questions or assignments were particularly tricky? Which problems did you get wrong on past quizzes or tests? Go through each one to make sure you understand it.

3. If you need help, ask

Still stuck on a few things? Whether it is a problem that you just can’t solve or an an essay that you just can’t start, talk it through with someone. Find a friend in your class, stop by office hours, or connect with a tutor on InstaEDU.

4. Sleep

Get some sleep. SERIOUSLY, GO TO BED. Don’t pull an all-nighter.

10 Common Writing Mistakes

It’s 2am and your paper is due at 9am. Your eyesight is blurry from looking at your computer screen. All you want to do is finish and go to sleep. So you turn your paper in without proofreading.

Then you get your paper back: C+. C+? You look through your professor’s edits and come across this:

“The principle point of this paper is to explore the affects of whether on gorilla warfare in Asian.”

Don’t let this happen to you. Use this checklist to help avoid 10 common student writing errors.

1. Missing a comma

Commas and periods are the two most used punctuation marks, but commas seem to cause the most confusion. Are you using commas correctly? Have you written any sentences containing items in a series? When three or more items appear in a series, they should be separated from one another using commas. (The last comma is optional, though.)

Example: We’re out of milk, eggs, and cheese.

Bonus tip: Always use commas to set off names or titles of a person when directly addressing someone.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.02.47 AM2. No comma after an introductory phrase

An introductory phrase provides background information and is usually followed by a comma.

Incorrect – While I was studying my roommate watched TV.

Correct – While I was studying, my roommate watched TV.

3. Using the wrong word

Whether/weather. Affect/effect. To/too. While all are spelled correctly, they each mean different things. Watch your words and don’t rely on spell check alone. Spell check may not see words which are misused, but spelled correctly!


4. Run-on sentence

Run-on sentences occur when a sentence contains two complete thoughts without the necessary punctuation to link them. Run-on sentences should be divided into separate sentences or joined by adding words or punctuation.

Example: Mr. Smith sent all of his kids to college, however, he has sacrificed his health working to pay for it.

Where the first comma appears, we should have used a period and started a new sentence.

5. Watch your verb tenses

All the verb tenses should work together in harmony.

6. Pronoun shift

This occurs when an author switches pronouns for no apparent reason. I > you > one

Incorrect – If you eat sensibly and watch your calories, most people will be able to maintain their weight.

Correct – If you eat sensibly and watch your calories, you should be able to maintain your weight.

7. Spelling Mistakes

Mistakes happen, but make sure you stop and review your writing for errors. Having someone else review your writing will also help ensure that all mistakes get corrected.

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8. Its vs It’s

For many people, this is one of the trickiest grammar rules. Use its to mean belonging to it; use it’s only when you mean it is or it has.

It’s is a contraction for it is or it has. “It’s almost the weekend.” Its indicates possessive. “Every dog has its day.”

Its’ is never correct. Ever.

9. Double Negatives

You know the old adage ‘two wrongs don’t make a right?’ Well two negatives do make a positive.

Incorrect: I cannot hardly wait for the semester to be over.

Correct: I can hardly wait for the semester to be over.

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10. Mechanical error with a quotation

“I wish we were at the beach”, Elizabeth says.

The comma should be placed inside the quotation marks.

This list has some brief example and explanations for you to use as reminders while you edit papers. Have a paper you’re struggling to format? Or just want another set of eyes to help you proofread? Connect with a great writing tutor now.

Overwhelmed with college admissions?

The college admissions process can be confusing and cumbersome. What are the college admission requirements? What should your personal essay say? What schools fit your checklist? What should your test scores be?


InstaEDU now has professional college admissions counselors!

Whether you’re struggling with formatting your personal statement or just want advice on how to tackle the process— we have you covered.

Meet some of our college counselors:

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Bob P.

“I have been working with students for the last 18 years. I love my profession and love helping students.” 


Monique S.

“I am able to explain many of the tricky, technical languages that many colleges use in their application process.” 

Connect with a college counselor now.

5 Things No One Tells You About College (Until It’s Too Late)

Coffee, pizza and late-night library cram sessions are old news, but what about the things no one tells you about your freshman year— things that will help you better manage your time, ace your classes and feel sane come finals? Here are 5 things every freshman should know:

5 things no one tells you about college

1.Your Grades May be Based on 2 Exams (and nothing more)

A midterm and a final often determine the entirety of your grade in a class (though, depending on the class, a midterm or final could be a paper instead). There probably won’t be any opportunities for extra credit. You need to study and (yes) go to class. Missing lectures and skipping class means you’ll be missing out on valuable material that will inevitably be included on the exam. So go to class!

2. Just Because You Don’t Have Homework Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Need to Study

Without daily homework assignments, it’s easy to put off reading and assignments. However, professors still expect you to keep up with the syllabus and be accountable for assigned reading. You need to study to keep up and stay ahead of the class. Flash cards, study groups, tutoring — find a study method that works for you and then stick with it.

3. You’ll Be Forced to Take Classes You Don’t “Need”

Electives are classes that are not part of your core area of study, and you’re usually required to take a number of electives throughout the year.

The upside is that these classes can give you an opportunity to try something new, and provide a break from your normal course load. Art history? Pottery? Mandarin? Don’t be afraid to try something that’s outside your comfort zone; this is a great time to explore what you’re passionate about.

4. Failing a Class Can Cost You Financially

Nobody wants to fail a class, but flunking a class can not only hurt your moral… it can also impact your financial aid. Not to mention you’ve already spent money to rent or buy textbooks (new semester = new edition) and class enrollment. Plan ahead and get the help you need if you think you’re in danger of failing.

5. Everyone Needs Extra Help In Tough Classes

Even the smartest students get challenged in college. The good new is that there are tons of resources to help you out, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Tutoring can not only save you from failing a class; it can also provide an opportunity for you to make sure you are on track. No matter what the subject, or the time of day, InstaEDU has online tutors who can help 24/7.

Tutor Talks: College Admissions Essay Help from University of Pennsylvania’s Anastasiya

School is back and session, and many high school seniors now have the impending task of beginning their college admissions essays. See how InstaEDU tutor, and University of Pennsylvania student Anastasiya K. tapped into a unique life experience to find inspiration for her writing prompt.

Anastasiya-K. shares here college admissions essay writing tips

Anastasiya-K. shares her college admissions essay writing tips

How early did you start writing your main college admissions essay?

I started writing in early Fall (probably September or so) of my senior year.

What was your approach to starting the writing process?

Even though my main essay was a response to an already determined topic, the first thing I did was brainstorm qualities that set me apart from other students, qualities that made me unique. After that I incorporated these qualities in my essay, connecting them to the topic in the best way I could.

What was your essay about?

I had to describe myself as a person who was either movable, immovable, or moving others. I chose “movable” and based my entire answer around a real life example. When I first came to America 5 years ago, I landed in New York City. It was extremely overwhelming. While outside on the streets and among the tallest buildings I had ever seen, I had to keep moving just to make sure I wasn’t crushed. In that moment, I realized that trying to get somewhere in life was just like trying to get somewhere in NYC. In both cases, no matter what, I had to keep moving.

What do you think the main take away or theme from your essay was?

I wrote my essay with the intention of showing my determination not just in one situation, but also on a more global scale. It was my best quality at that point, so naturally I had to write about it.

What did you learn through the college essay writing process, either about your topic, the process, or about yourself?

I definitely learned a lot about myself. I applied to over 20 colleges, so besides my main essay I had to write about 20 more. All the different topics and questions made me wonder, first of all, who I was as a person. In my high school – as, probably, in most high schools – achievement was determined by how well one could follow the template, not by how well one expressed oneself. Writing college essays provided me with an opportunity to do just that – express who I was.

What’s one thing you wish you knew before you submitted your college admissions essay?

Definitely proofreading. I cannot stress this enough. When I go back and re-read my essays now, I cannot believe I put “the” instead of “a,” or forgot a comma. It always happens, even if you think you’ve proofread it enough. I advise the students to write the essay early and proofread at various time intervals until it needs to be submitted. After a certain period of time, some sentences won’t seem as perfect as they did when you first put them down.

What tips would you offer students who are starting to try and figure out their essay topics?

No matter what you do, you will NOT know exactly what the university wants to see in your essay. There is just no way to know. So instead, focus on putting the real YOU into those essays. Include personal detail. Make sure the members of the admissions committee really have an idea of who you are as a person before they make the decision. Your GPA is just a number. Your ACT score is just a number. You are not defined by these numbers, and that is exactly what you need to show them.

If you’re looking for more college admissions essay writing help, stay tuned for more posts in the Tutor Talks series on college admissions essay writing — coming throughout this fall on the InstaEDU blog. And make sure to get in touch with Anastasiya K. and our nearly 2,000 college admissions tutors on InstaEDU for one-on-one college essay writing guidance. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @instaedu_tutoring and on Snapchat at ‘instaedu’ to unlock more Tutor Talks content.