How to work on a paper with your classmates

At a certain point during your time as an undergraduate, it’s inevitable that a professor of yours will assign a group writing assignment where you’ll have to complete a paper with some of your peers. As opposed to typical college papers where your grade is fully dependent on the quality of your own work, there’s always a certain amount of uncertainty when co-writing a project due to the inherent dependency on others. For many students, co-working on college paper can be a source of anxiety, since dealing with the opinions and criticisms of one’s peers can be stressful.

In particular, many college students feel a sense of hesitancy about sharing their papers with other students. Whether it’s because they feel insecure about being judged by the quality of their writing, or simply because it seems like an ineffective way to complete the project, students are unlikely to share whole papers with their peers. Given this reality, we decided to come up with a solution that would be useful for students who are working together on group writing projects.

Our idea was to develop a unique app which allows students to communicate with their peers while working on the group project. Rather than sharing the entirety of their papers, the BetterFlow app enables students to create live discussions where they can discuss the relevant issues from papers with their co-writers.

The core feature of BetterFlow is simple and yet extremely effective in helping groups complete writing assignments by working cooperatively. All of the members of the group can be instantly added to the discussion by using the app’s “invite” button. As soon as the members of the group receive their invitations, they will be able to comment on the posted discussions. They’ll also be able to initiate discussions of their own, facilitating additional conversation that will improve the overall quality of the group’s paper.

When it comes to groups of students working on college papers together, the collaborative process can be extremely challenging. Especially the first time around, students can have a difficult time incorporating the individuality of each member’s writing style into the group essay. One of the primary benefits of BetterFlow is that it streamlines the aspects of the collaborative process that tend to create problems. Instead of getting stalled unnecessarily, the app assists co-writers in moving the process along and making steady progress on their assignment.

Whether you’re working with one partner or with a group of peers, BetterFlow will help you keep track of your discussions and deadlines. In this respect, the app is beneficial from a purely logistical standpoint as well, and it will ensure that the paper is developing at an optimal pace. Instead of waiting for the last moment, BetterFlow is conducive towards open communication that prevents unnecessary all-nighters before the assignment’s due date.

Discussion
Discussion

Furthermore, the app facilitates positive dialogue that will give your paper direction and a clear thesis. During all stages of the writing process—from the initial brainstorming all the way until the paper’s final touches—BetterFlow has a constructive role to play. Students will find that working on group papers can actually be an enjoyable experience, and that many of the usual communication difficulties can be easily avoided by taking advantage of the app. Best of all, BetterFlow takes into account the preferences of students by allowing them to bypass sharing their papers with the whole group. Go now to www.BetterFlow.co and register for free, you can access the discussion feature by clicking BF Extra after you log in.

How to brainstorm

One of the most difficult parts of beginning a project is coming up with the perfect idea or solution. Making a decision on your concept and turning it into a solution requires an ample deal of time and practice. This process is called “brainstorming.”

Brainstorming is the action of developing ideas or solutions to our posed problems or questions. Often, this takes the form of a “brainstorming session,” in which two or more thinkers come together to bounce ideas off of one another. However, it is also important to develop your own ability to think creatively and look for a solution to a challenging problem. Learning how to do this on an individual level can be a huge asset when it comes to homework assignments, internship work, or even at your future job.

Here are the best ways to brainstorm as an individual and in a group:

Set the Stage

Artists will tell you that their spaces and canvases are some of the most important parts of the creative process–a dark and dingy basement with fluorescent lighting and a weird humming sound will likely not produce optimal results. The best way to find your inspiration space is to experiment. Start by returning to a spot where a great idea has come to you previously. If that doesn’t work, head to a quiet, naturally-lit area that has comfortable seating and a low distraction factor.

How you write down your ideas is equally important as your space. Some prefer to write by hand. Others want to see their ideas on a larger scale, like on a whiteboard or a classroom’s smart monitor. Make sure that you are equipped with what you need to be a successful brainstormer.

Break it Down

When we get excited about a large-scale project, we often miss the direct problem or question completely. That’s why it’s important to take a moment to break the task down.

This begins by separating what needs to be answered from what can be added if there is time or space. As you break down the problem or question, you will begin to see a draft or plan forming. This will help make the brainstorming process easier, saving you from missing your objectives.

Freeform Creatively

Once you have a draft, freeform thinking can begin. This is the fun part of brainstorming. You can use your creative thinking power to write down notes, shout out ideas, draw, debate, or even sing your way to a solution. Ultimately, freeforming will help your mind to flow with ideas.

Do not let negativity in your group or a lack a confidence on your part get in the way when freeforming. At this stage, there are no “bad” ideas; everything deserves consideration. In fact, seemingly bad ideas can help inspire good ones or lead you to an even better solution.

Rest and Reassess

Brainstorming can be difficult. If you’re starting to feel helpless or hopeless or your group has slowed down, this is the perfect time to rest. Table your ideas for a different day, or come back to it in an hour or two.

If time is not on your side, at least take a moment to harness your energy back by stretching, moving around, or getting a bite to eat. Many studies have shown that movement can be one of the best ways to encourage creative thinking or to formulate new ideas.

Enlist a Friend

Now that you have a couple of great brainstormed ideas, it’s time to get to work. If you find being decisive with your ultimate decision troublesome, try turning to a friend for a second opinion. You may be surprised by the wisdom your roommate, sorority sister, or even parent may be able to impart on you when given the chance. After a lot of work brainstorming, a fresh set of eyes will be able to see the hidden strengths and flaws of an idea.

You should also include your professor to this list. Never be afraid to ask a professor or teaching assistant to help you brainstorm. Most instructors would be more than willing to sit down and discuss your ideas and theories. Other services like writing centers or tutors can also serve as brainstorming tools if you have the time and ability to utilize them.

Brainstormers are Better Thinkers

Going through the full brainstorming process can be daunting, but practicing breaking down problems and thinking creatively can be huge helps when it comes to a variety of future problems and issues. Plus, learning how you think and what sparks your creativity can be harnessed for future assignments or for moments when you get stuck. Whether you work in a group, turn to a professor, or keep your ideas to yourself, becoming a brainstormer can open up your potential as both a thinker and a solver.

How Students Can Handle Stress and Relax

If you’re like most students, then in addition to everything else on your plate you’re also dealing with large amounts of draining stress. A whopping 85% of college students report that they feel stress on a daily basis, so you’re far from alone.

With a difficult job market that’s getting increasingly harder to leap into, there’s a tremendous amount of competition for all types of student. And if the economy wasn’t enough of a reason to be stressed out, the rising cost of tuition means that you’re likely facing a serious amount of debt from the moment you graduate.

With all of the pressure, it can be hard to remind yourself about the importance of relaxing and letting go of your tension. Relaxing has never been more important for students, and being able to manage your stress effectively can make all of the difference in your life. Here are some essential tips to help you handle stress properly:

Optimize your Sleep Schedule

College students are notorious for sleeping at irregular hours throughout the semester, and especially when it comes to finals season. The hard truth is that going through cycles of all-nighters and then crashing has more disadvantages than actual benefits. One of the problems of sleeping irregularly or not getting enough hours is that you’ll be more stressed out while trying to get work done. Rather than squeezing everything into all-nighters, plan your sleeping schedule in advance and stick to it.

Eat Nutritious Meals

One of the signs of being stressed is that you fail to take proper care of your body. Besides for getting enough sleep, make sure that you’re eating complete meals three times a day. A lot of students think that they’re saving time by always eating snacks on-the-go instead of sitting down for healthy meals. In reality, the nutrition from eating real food will provide your body with a surge of energy that will have a calming effect on your mind and improve your concentration as you work.

Mindfulness Meditation

Many stressed-out students may feel a kneejerk reaction against dabbling in meditation, feeling that they have to be Buddhist or religious in order to gain anything from it. The truth of the matter is that learning the basics of meditation can make the world of difference when it comes to handling stress and relaxing. In fact, just several minutes of day can have an immediate effect on your state of mind that will leave you feeling alert and aware as you sit down for a long study session. The popularity of meditation is growing speedily on campuses, and many students swear by the benefits they’ve internalized from practicing it.

Set Realistic Goals

Holding yourself to an impossible standard will inevitably lead to feeling anxiety and stress when you fail to live up to those unachievable goals. Recognize that nobody is perfect, least of all yourself. Rather than trying to accomplish the impossible, spend some time creating goals that can be realistically achieved with a good work ethic, and focus only on accomplishing these attainable goals.

Focus on One Item

One of the main reasons that students feel so much stress is that many things are expected from them simultaneously. As a result, you may be having a hard time focusing on anything at all, since all you can think about are the other items on your to-do list. This will definitely cause stress, since it makes you think that you’ll never be able to accomplish everything that you need to do. That’s why it’s crucial to just focus on the task at hand, whatever it may be. Being able to focus 100% of your attention on a single assignment is far more important than trying to multitask a million different projects at once, which will definitely cause stress.

Plan in Advance

Never let yourself get caught behind schedule with mountains of work and little time to accomplish any of it. The more efficiently that you plan your timetables, the easier it will be to stay calm as you progress through all of your schoolwork. The less organized you are, the harder it will be to relax yourself when a pressing deadline is looming.

Connect with Others

Friendships and relationships can play a major role in reducing your stress by sharing a light moment with others. Many times students that are dealing with stress end up isolating themselves socially, which ends up causing even more unwarranted stress. When it comes to handling stress effectively, nothing is more important than being able to turn to friends that can help you relax, whatever the circumstances. The emotional support that they can provide will be invaluable when it comes to getting through periods of intense pressure.

Have an Outlet

Even if your schedule is very demanding, try to plan a small amount of downtime in which you can focus on a passion or a hobby outside of schoolwork. Being able to release your energy into a project that you’re passionate about is an excellent way of reducing excess stress and it’ll help you feel refreshed when you return to your schoolwork.