186 South College

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Tag: academics (page 1 of 3)

“Presentation Tips” by Ryan Dean

In most college courses, classes consist of lectures, note-taking, and group assignments. But every so often students are required to demonstrate their knowledge publicly, in the form of an oral presentation. These occur so infrequently that many are unfamiliar with the strategies necessary to put on an engaging and informational presentation, or are out of practice with the behaviors of a skilled presenter. Fortunately, my high school afforded me plenty of opportunities to sharpen my proficiency in this vocation, and in this blog post I would like to share some of the techniques I have learned both through experience and mentorship.



Regardless of the topic of a given demonstration, the behavior of the presenter is critical to promoting audience attention and comprehension. I’m sure you’ve heard some of these tactics before, but warrants restating that eye contact, posture, and gesticulation are all great tools to maintain viewers’ engagement. Try segmenting the crowd into 3 groups (or more, depending on the size of the venue) and make eye contact with individuals in each of those sections successively. Focusing too long on those closest to you could alienate other parts of your viewership. Likewise, good posture goes a long way in portraying an aura of confidence, indicating to your audience that you are competent in whatever is being discussed. Hand gestures are also useful in exhibiting your passion for the subject matter, increasing your credibility.



Your skills as a presenter won’t mean much unless you have intriguing, comprehensible graphics for your audience to look at. In a PowerPoint presentation, slides are complimentary to your own speech. That means they should be brief, simple, and visually appealing. A good rule of thumb is to keep the text under 25 words, as this prevents the audience from becoming overwhelmed or tuning out to your verbal presentation. I have personally had the most success with animated bullet points, as these allow you to decide when your viewers see a piece of information, and in what order. Of course, you can always rely on a picture or graphic to liven up a slide, but be careful that it isn’t offering new information, and is cropped appropriately.

In those courses when droves of students are giving presentations, it is especially necessary to use unique slideshow templates. The default templates available on Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint are likely to be used by other students, so I recommend using a website like SlidesCarnival to download a free and visually pleasing template that will stand out from those of your peers.


The strategies I have outlined in this blog post are by no means intended to be exhaustive, nor could they be. The circumstances surrounding a demonstration, like the locale, audience, and topic will influence the creative decisions that go into crafting a presentation. For instance, slideshows are best suited for small, indoor environments; while charts and graphs are practically essential when presenting the results of an experiment or study. However, the techniques stated above will be a boon to any presentation, since audience engagement and comprehension are at the center of public speaking.


Link to SlidesCarnival: https://www.slidescarnival.com/


“Artes Vita: Touching Up Your Work Flow” By Abhigna Rao

HI EVERYONE! WELCOME BACK! I hope everyone had a lovely, restful Winter Break, whether you were taking a Winter Session, chilling at home, away on vacation, or studying abroad!

But now it’s back to the grind, and I can’t be the only one who’s feeling a tad bit overwhelmed with the impending hustle of the next twelve weeks. It’s only been three weeks into the spring semester, and I already feel like the rustic bricks of Old College are being thrown at me.

Nevertheless, how we handle the pressure of achieving a healthy work-life balance is fully within our control—if we develop the right mindset to do so. One of my objectives for personal growth this semester is to really work hard to stay on top of my academics and activities, and I want to share with you some of the strategies I have been using in order to do just that. Continue reading

“Completing my English Degree” by Amanda Langell

As the semester comes to a close, I find myself in a nostalgic, uncharacteristic mood.  Four years ago, I was just trying to survive my first finals week as a stressed-out, overwhelmed freshman. It sounds cliché, but I have no idea how time has moved so quickly, and now I’m concluding my last ever fall semester as an undergraduate. My best friend and I met for lunch today and we couldn’t believe how much we have grown since we met on move-in day at Redding. It feels like a lifetime ago, yet it also feels like yesterday. I have a feeling a lot of clichés will be thrown out in this post, but I can’t help it.

I came into college declared as an English major, not knowing much beyond my passion for reading and writing. Despite some looming doubts and outside voices, I trusted I would figure out my path eventually. Over the past years, I took literature classes that excited me, creative writing classes that bettered me, and English classes that just sounded fun. I became a member of the Writing Fellows Program, a writer (and now editor) for this blog, and an editor of Caesura, the campus literary magazine. I also added history as a second major and worked extremely hard to balance two of the most writing-centric subjects offered at the university. Sometimes it was a lot, but I made it out alive. I successfully increased my passions through my education and will leave UD this upcoming spring as a better student and a better person. Continue reading

“Think Like a Tomato: A Guide to the Pomodoro Method” by Nicole Pinera

We thrive on the ping of new notifications, two paragraph long summaries of three-hundred page novels, and fifteen second video clips… and it is killing our productivity. When it’s time to sit down and study or write that final essay that’s been hanging over your head all semester, it can be hard not to start mindlessly scrolling through your phone. I’ve found a technique that helps me focus and get work done. Especially as UD Honors students, who typically have too many commitments and just not enough hours in the day for every one of them, being productive and focusing on the task at hand is a lifesaver.

For anyone who knows a little bit of Italian (disclaimer: I don’t, I used Google Translate), you’ll know that “pomodoro” translates to “tomato.” If you don’t get how a tomato can help you do your homework, don’t worry; there’s a fun backstory to this simple but effective productivity method. A college student named Francesco Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to break his work up into 25 minute blocks, followed by a short break. The concept, originally devised in the 1980s, stuck, and this widely popularized technique is known as the Pomodoro Method today. Continue reading

“Note-Taking 101” by Ryan Dean

I can hardly ever remember taking notes in high school. Besides a few select AP courses, notes simply weren’t critical to my academic success. I imagine the same is true for many of my fellow honors freshman, who have managed to perform well without developing this important skill. But circumstances change, and we now find ourselves in a demanding intellectual environment. It’s time to adapt, and that means becoming effective note-takers.

Perhaps you are of the opinion that this subject doesn’t warrant much discussion, much less an entire blog post. After all, note-taking is just copying what a teacher says, right? Unfortunately, there is a lot more nuance to this topic than there may seem. While you can still thrive by transcribing everything you see on a chalkboard, you are wasting time and effort by failing to adopt more efficient practices. So I implore you to read on, and consider implementing the following techniques into your regular note-taking. Continue reading

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