Food for Thought: 7 Foods that Boost Your Brain Power

Posted Friday, August 30, 2013

From childhood, we listened to our parents drone on about eating our vegetables, grimacing as spinach, broccoli and/or Brussels sprouts were piled onto our plates. Cringing as we took every bite, wishing with all our might it was ice cream and candy. Yet, as we’ve grown older, we’ve learned that eating those (maybe not-so yucky anymore) vegetables make us big and strong after all. Science has determined the specific foods that will improve the health of our bones, skin and more, and the brain is no different. Sometimes we are so focused on changing or shaping our bodies that we forget to cater to the muscle that keeps us going. While these foods are a helpful boost to our bodies, they are even more important because they offer the nutrition needed to make us smarter. Whether you are consumed with studying, writing papers, or, if you are lucky, relaxing, try eating these foods proven to boost your brainpower.

  1. Avocados: Attention guacamole fans! Avocados aid in the circulation of blood (and therefore, oxygen) so the brain can work at its best. Eating an avocado in the morning is a healthier breakfast option to wake you up than an energy drink while also kick-starting your brain activity.
  2. Salmon: Salmon are rich with Omega-3 fatty acids essential for brain health. Eating salmon or any fish that contain Omega-3s increases alertness, cognitive ability and reduces the risks of dementia. Light and delicious, salmon should be a staple in your diet!
  3. Eggs: If you are having a tough time trying to memorize terms for a test, eggs are not only packed with protein, but the yolk contains memory-promoting Choline. Eating eggs for breakfast before you start a study session is a great way to retain the information.
  4. Berries: Eating berries rich in antioxidants, like blueberries and blackberries, have been found to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Berries also increase motor-skills and learning-ability - not bad for a sweet and nutritious snack.
  5. Coffee: Hot or iced, grande or venti, a cup of coffee is ritual amongst all early risers before the start of any day. But that cup of Joe does more than just wake you up in the morning! Coffee contains fiber, which helps your cardiovascular system pump blood through your body, increasing alertness in the part of your brain that makes decisions.
  6. Chocolate: Yes, you read that right! Dark chocolate is a fantastic source of antioxidants, rich in fiber to help the blood flow to your brain. A pretty sweet deal, indeed.
  7. Nuts: Packed with Vitamin E to help brain function, you would be ‘nuts’ not to incorporate these treats into your diet. Rich in fiber and fats to help with blood flow, try almonds, macadamias and walnuts for a healthy snack any time.

Delicious and healthy, these foods are accessible in any supermarket. Of course, adding these staples to your diet won’t help you pass that test if you don’t study. But eating right can give your brain that extra boost you need to excel. So next time your stomach growls late at night as you study, instead of grabbing a bag of chips, try some of these foods. You will satisfy not only your stomach, but also your mind. After all, it would be a terrible thing to waste.


Tags: Study Tips , Work-Life Balance

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The 5 Questions to Ask Yourself if You are Thinking of Going Back to School

Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We all have different reasons for wanting to return to college. Perhaps it is a personal fulfillment, a message of resilience and determination, or a means to reach that illustrious promotion. Regardless of the purpose, the end goal is the same: you want to earn your degree. You want to finish what you started or take your achievement to the next level.

When it comes to going back to school, you’ve already leaped over the first hurdle. Motivation. That driving force will take you far. Yet, like any significant milestone in your life, you may have a few questions and concerns about returning to college. You have a busy life balancing personal and professional commitments, and we understand this need better than any other institution of higher learning in the world. So if you are thinking of returning to college, ask yourself these questions to assess and prepare for the commitment that will take you to the next level.

What should I expect? With flexible options, you can work towards your degree at your own pace. Depending on your work and personal commitments, you can slow the pace down or accelerate the amount of courses you take in your degree program. The length of time also varies and there are a few factors that can impact how many courses you need to take to complete your degree. One is how many credits you are able to transfer to your new school. Depending on the institution you select, you may also be able to earn credit for professional or military training, professional licenses and certifications that have been assessed for college credit, credit-by-exam programs (such as the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP)) or through portfolio assessment.

Many schools offer programs where there are no time limits on completing a degree and no classroom attendance is required, so pursuing a degree fits in with your life. Of course, taking courses online does not mean the degree program will be easy; the same expectations apply to online courses as they do in a traditional classroom setting. Remember that life does not stop because you are attending college. You must still meet the expectations of work, life and school, and understand any sacrifices you may need to take to meet your goals.

How much time and commitment must I devote? The length of time it takes you to complete your degree depends on the number of credits you bring to your degree program. These issues are determined during the evaluation that takes place after a prospective student applies to college. However many credits you choose to take in a year, recognize that your goals must be realistic. With certain professional and personal commitments, you may not be able to complete your degree in a year. Assess the amount of courses you can reasonably manage in your schedule and progressively move forward.

How can I best balance my school, professional and personal commitments? It all comes down to time management and creating a plan. Develop a routine in a structured environment by setting up certain dates and times to accomplish whatever you need to do. Once you find your niche – maybe an hour after the kids are in bed or a few hours on a Sunday morning – stick to it. Finding the balance between life, work and school will be your key to success.

What will I study? While you cannot choose ‘undecided’ during the application process, you can switch into any program. You are not married to the program noted on your application. Once you receive your academic evaluation, your academic advisor can discuss with you the requirements and help map out any degree program that interests you. Also, if you started a program 30 years ago, we can help you cultivate the same program regardless of our degree offerings.

What do I need to do to prepare? To familiarize yourself with the distance-learning format, you can take an entry-level online course at any community college for a similar experience. As you map out a degree plan, look at a variety of credit options that you feel comfortable with; maybe you prefer to learn in a discussion format rather than on your own, or taking tests comes easily to you. Research what materials you will need to go back to college. Most importantly, discuss with your family the type of commitment you are making – it will affect them all. An understanding, supportive family atmosphere will help you achieve your goal; a spouse helping with the dishes so you can finish writing a paper can feel like a miracle.

Recognizing the expectations required for going back to college will only help you as you navigate the tricky balance of work, school and life. Since no one is telling you to go do your homework, creating a structured environment and routine will help you cultivate the self-discipline necessary to achieve your goals. As you drive your own educational success, remember that, in all efforts “there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence and honest purpose, as well as perspiration.” A very true quote, stated by our namesake, Thomas Edison.


Tags: Credit by Exam , Going Back to College , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Taking Courses , Time Management , Work-Life Balance

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7 People Who Didn't Let Obstacles Stop Them From Success

Posted Friday, August 16, 2013

Thomas Edison's teacher declared him
Thomas Edison's teacher declared him "too stupid to learn anything." Boy, did he prove them wrong.

If you take a moment to think about someone who is successful, whom do you think of? A friend? A family member? Or is the person you envision better known for fame and fortune?

When we think of success, we often admire people like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey. They are household names with business empires to match. However, these mega-moguls started out their world-changing endeavors like everyone else. They faced setbacks. They were told ‘no,’ or had doors slammed in their faces. At first, they failed at pursing their dreams. But, despite the obstacles, they triumphed. We may honor them for their contribution to history, marvel at the inventions or contributions that forever changed the landscape of our lives, or laugh/cry/scream in response to their genius. But aside from all that, these 7 people had one thing that set them apart: perseverance.

  1. Although he is well known for creating the beloved films that have significantly impacted families around the world, Walt Disney didn’t have an easy start in the film business. Working at a newspaper, he was fired by his editor for “lacking imagination and creativity.” But Disney didn’t let that deter him. He kept writing and creating, and went through countless business failures before the success of his first film, Snow White, effectively launching his legendary career.
    Lesson: Sometimes you need a swift kick in the pants to make your dreams come true.
  2. Steven Spielberg, the brilliant director behind such celebrated films as Jaws, E.T. and Indiana Jones, faced rejection early on in his pursuit to work in movies. He applied three times to his dream school, the University of Southern California – and was rejected three times. It wouldn’t be until after he established a successful career in the movie industry that Spielberg returned to college in 2002 to complete his bachelor’s degree.
    Lesson: It is never too late to go back to school, even if you could probably teach a course or two (or seven).
  3. Life can be unfair, and no one knows that better than Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling. While she may be an acclaimed writer today with a fortune that could buy and sell the Queen of England, before all her literary success, Rowling was an unemployed, single mother living off welfare. With limited time for herself to write, Rowling jotted down the first draft of the Harry Potter series on a napkin while on a delayed train.
    Lesson: No matter what life throws at you, keep your eye on the prize, and always carry a few napkins with you.
  4. Talk about a tough crowd. Sitcom star and career comic, Jerry Seinfeld, was booed off the stage at his first show. The following day, he returned to the same club and won the laughter of that same crowd. And so, yada, yada, yada, a comedy star was born.
    Lesson: With the right attitude, you can turn a bad situation, not that there’s anything wrong with that, into a good one.
  5. With a loyal talk show audience and her own television network, billionaire Oprah Winfrey has sure made a name for herself…and a magazine… and a school… But Winfrey didn’t always win over the television critics; she was fired from one of her first reporting jobs because she was considered unfit for television. She refused to let the opinions of others discourage her from her dreams, eventually transforming into one of the most influential media moguls and prominent personalities of all time.
    Lesson: Don’t let the opinions of others define who you are; show them that some of your favorite things are a strong work ethic and determination.
  6. As a child, our institution’s namesake, Thomas Edison, was called “too stupid to learn anything.” However, being degraded by his teacher didn’t break Edison’s desire to learn. He may have made 10,000 light bulbs before one that worked, but the power of that one successful invention forever changed the world. Known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” Edison’s pursuit of knowledge and numerous inventions including the motion picture camera, the phonograph, electric car batteries, and much, much more, led us to the modern life we know today.
    Lesson: Sometimes magic takes a little more time and effort to happen.
  7. Sometimes, we are our own worst critic. The master of contemporary horror, Stephen King, knows that first hand. While writing one of his terrifying novels, he became so frustrated he threw the draft into the trashcan. His wife found it, and forwarded the manuscript to an editor. The story eventually became a best seller and an equally as frightening film, Carrie.
    Lesson: Do not underestimate yourself; your capability and potential are limitless.

Success is an ongoing process; it does not happen over night, and it takes time. If you focus on your goals and maintain a positive attitude, you can reach your dreams. With a healthy mix of perseverance and determination, you will be unstoppable. Whether you are looking to pass that TECEP test, get that degree or change your life, do it whole-heartedly. Only then can you create your own legacy of success.


Tags: Motivation

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The Top 7 Discussion Board DO's and DON'Ts (INFOGRAPHIC)

Posted Tuesday, August 13, 2013

As the dynamic feature of online courses, discussion boards provide for vibrant engagement between classmates and mentors. You’ll find your interactions to be lively and thoughtful—like actually being in a classroom together.

However, just as in a traditional classroom, professional etiquette still applies. In an online atmosphere, what you post is a reflection of who you are. Everyone is trying to learn, so understanding the DO’s & DON’Ts of discussion boards will help you avoid unprofessional pitfalls that can hinder the learning process of the entire class, and most importantly, you.

The Top 7 Discussion Board Do's and Don'ts (Infographic)

Top 7 Discussion Board DO's and DONT's

Please include attribution to Thomas Edison State College with this graphic.

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Tags: Advising , Online Tools and Resources , Taking Courses

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On Your Mark, Get Set... Study! Running the Marathon of College

Posted Friday, August 09, 2013

"Whether you are gearing up to run a race or getting ready to return to college, you are preparing to accomplish a major milestone in your life."
“We all have dreams; in order to make dreams come into reality it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort."
- Jesse Owens, Olympic Gold-Medalist runner


As the Trenton Half Marathon approaches this fall, avid and amateur runners from all over the world are stretching, strengthening and pushing themselves to prepare for the big event. And in homes, libraries and offices across the country, students are proof-reading assignments, checking their reading lists and gearing up for exams as they head toward a different type of finish line. Whether you are gearing up to run a race or getting ready to return to college, you are preparing to accomplish a major milestone in your life. You can see the finish line as you hit the “submit” button on your application for graduation, or sprint toward the last credits you need to fulfill your degree requirements. After all that training, studying and preparing, at the end of the day, you did it. With your friends and family cheering you on at graduation or at the finish line, maybe a marathon and college aren’t so different after all:

  1. Start training: In each endeavor, there needs to be some sort of training, mentally and/or physically. You wouldn’t take a test without studying, just as you wouldn’t run a race without proper stretching.
  2. Know your limits: Early on in your training or schooling, you need to know your limits, and push them. By pushing yourself, you can go that extra mile to cross that finish line. On the other hand, it is just as important to know your limits and learn to take it easy when necessary – you wouldn’t use up all your stamina at the start of a race by sprinting. So if the training seems difficult, dial it back. Or if being a full-time student with a family and job seems impossible, consider finishing your degree on a part-time basis.
  3. Move at your own pace: Like finishing your degree, the time it takes you to graduation day does not matter; all that does matter is that you reached the finish line. You did it.
  4. Go the distance: An added benefit of marathons is that they are often held in a variety of locations, guiding you through routes that can be fun and exciting to experience for the first time. Likewise, completing your degree can advance your career, providing new opportunities and ventures you wouldn’t have been able to experience if not for that degree.
  5. Get rewarded: Be it a medal or diploma, there is always a reward waiting for you at the finish line. But, the personal reward is the greater one; you develop a sense of achievement and fulfillment. Just as you were inspired to run or study, you will inspire others to complete their own goals. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Ultimately, you won’t finish a marathon or complete your degree unless you are motivated. With the right training, mentality and inspiration, you will get to that finish line; for our graduates this September, it will be poised right there above the commencement stage. Be it college or a marathon, understanding the expectations of any goal will only prepare you as you hit the ground running.

What other ways have you found a marathon and college to be similar? Share them in the comments!

Tags: Going Back to College , Graduation , Motivation

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What Portfolio Assessment Can Do For You

Posted Monday, August 05, 2013

Close your eyes and picture a course that has no guide or textbook to help you study, because all the material you needed to know – you already knew. All the life and work experiences you needed to understand – you already did. There are no tests or quizzes, and at the end, you earn college credit…. Sounds like a dream course, a fantasy we all drum up when work, life and school blur together into one seemingly endless challenge.

Except it isn’t. This dream that you dare to dream, is really true; it exists and it’s real.

That’s the idea behind Portfolio Assessment (previously known as Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) at Thomas Edison State College). Like many of our students, you may be surprised to find that you already have knowledge in multiple subject areas from a lifetime of learning that can be applied toward your degree. That college-level knowledge acquired outside the traditional college classroom is valuable because it may be your ticket to earning college credit.

With our new accelerated PLA-100 and PLA-200 courses, (1- and 2-credit courses, respectively) you will learn how to develop a portfolio to potentially earn credit for the college-level knowledge you have, equivalent to what would have been learned in a comparable college course. The difference is that your learning took place as a result of employment, independent study, training programs, volunteer services, cultural pursuits, hobbies, study abroad, and much, much more – so if you can earn credit for any of that, it’s a no-brainer!

To get started, first assess if you are a good candidate for portfolio assessment. As a working adult, chances are you have several areas to draw from. Until you learn how it’s done, building a portfolio can seem like a daunting task. Once you learn how, the benefits can help you in academic, professional and personal ways for a lifetime. Here’s why:

Academic. To learn how to build your portfolio, you take our accelerated PLA-100 and PLA-200 courses, a course sequence that helps you through the process of documenting your learning. These are credit courses, so you get credits for learning how you are going to get credits! These courses guide you as you create one or multiple portfolios; the average Thomas Edison State College student ends up earning around 12 additional credits through the portfolio process, and you could earn even more than that. (BONUS: An added benefit is the new cost structure for portfolio assessment, which could save you money. Click here for more information.)

Personal. Every day we are bombarded with information, and are constantly absorbing information through a mix of venues; we are internalizing a huge bank of learning. So how can you assess what is college-level knowledge? In creating a portfolio, you go through a significant amount of self-reflection and introspection to identify what you know as a result of your learning and experiences. As you review your competencies, knowledge and background, you may identify other areas of expertise you never thought about.

Professional. Your background is extensive, so wouldn’t it be incredible to show it off in one, well-organized place? Building a portfolio will help you develop lifelong learning skills that are great for your career, particularly as it can help you define a specific role, position or job description. A portfolio can also showcase your capabilities and accomplishments to a potential or current employer through your collection of evidence and detailed explanations of what it all means. A professional portfolio can add breadth and depth to your resume and your job search.

More than a course or a method for earning credit, Portfolio Assessment is a process that will benefit you as you navigate the new future you are building for yourself. As a Thomas Edison student, you already have the drive and determination to accomplish your goals, and you may already have the college-level knowledge it takes to get there.

Like Glinda says at the end of The Wizard of Oz, “ you’ve always had the power.” You just need to tap into it.

For more information on Portfolio Assessment visit our FAQ’s page here, or contact [email protected]





Tags: Career , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Taking Courses

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