The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Category: Be Balanced (page 1 of 2)

The benefits of meditation and mindfulness

Meditation — or mindfulness — is a practice centered around being fully present and paying attention to the current moment without judgement. While a regular meditation practice is known to alleviate stress, it can also lead to successes in the classroom, the workplace, and beyond. Here are four reasons why you might want to consider incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine:

  1. Boost your academic performance. Meditation can improve one’s ability to process and recall information; an essential skill to any student or professional. This increase in brain efficiency is due to growth of grey matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and problem solving.
  2. Reduce stress and anxiety. Adult learners are skilled at balancing competing priorities, and while there’s a certain thrill in the simultanrous accomplishment of both professional and academic goals, that doesn’t mean that the additional projects and deadlines don’t create stress and anxiety. Although you may not realize it, stress can lead to physical symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, and even physical aches and pains. are all symptoms of this type of response. Meditation is an effective tool in combating these symptoms by encouraging your body to slow down. By taking the time to meditate, the body is able to recognize that it is no longer in “flight or fight” mode.
  3. Strengthen your emotional resilience. The occasional failure is a crucial part of professional development. Without failure, and the ability to control the negative emotions associated with failure, there is no room for growth and improvement. Frequent meditation is proven to strengthen the emotional resiliency necessary to process and overcome negative experiences.
  4. Improve your overall health and wellness. Meditation has even been linked to a stronger immune system. A recent study found that meditation can potentially impact inflammation, cell-mediated immunity and biological aging.

Starting a meditation practice may seem overwhelming, but thanks to technology, mindfulness resources are more available than ever before. Stay tuned for a roundup of our favorite easy-access meditation tools.

Five Apps to Help You Manage Your Money

In honor of Boston FinTech Week, we’re looking at ways FinTech impacts our daily lives. 

As those in the FinTech space already know, managing one’s personal finances is easier than ever. Thanks to the rise of financial technology, users can make purchases, check bank statements, pay bills and track investments straight from their mobile devices.

FinTech apps are constantly evolving

In today’s crowded FinTech marketplace, financial technology companies and their app designers have been forced to up their game, providing more accessible, user-friendly interfaces. . 

Five free or low-cost  FinTech apps 

1. Venmo

Venmo allows users to request or send money from their family and friends by either connecting to their personal bank account or by depositing funds into the app.(Free)

2. Mint

Mint gives users an opportunity to see their finances all in one place. The app houses credit scores, bills, balances, investments and more. Users can set savings goals, manage budgets, and track their progress. (Free)

3. Acorns

Acorns is an app that takes a user’s spare change from their daily purchases by rounding up to the nearest dollar and puts that money toward savings or investments. ($1, $2, or $3 per month depending on a user’s account balance)

4. Wally

Wally is a daily tracking app designed to give users an overall picture of their financial activity as well as to set goals for the future. (Free)

5. PocketGuard

PocketGuard is a money management app that enables users to see where they are spending their money in simple and easy-to-understand graphs. PocketGuard provides tips on where users could potentially be saving money and creates unique budgets for each individual. (Free)

 

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

Tips for building relationships with virtual classmates

All learning —even digital learning — is a collaborative experience. Online students have the unique opportunity to connect with peers from all over the country and the world. Thanks to constant advances in instructional design, social networking and UX/UI, students pursuing online graduate degrees have the same opportunities to build meaningful relationships with their classmates as their on-campus counterparts. Read on for our guidelines on how to maximize these virtual relationships.

1) Practice empathetic communication

Empathetic communication, or empathetic listening, refers to the practice of listening with the intent to understand the speaker’s frame of reference for how they experience the world. Thanks to the nature of online learning, you may find yourself in a classroom full of people with different communication styles, norms and cultural values. Common slang that you’re used to may not resonate with a peer from a different country. When it comes to scheduling, be mindful of different time zones. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of needing to complete a group project on a deadline, try being mindful of varying professional or personal commitments your classmates may have outside of school.

2) Choose a program that prioritizes learning experience design and peer engagement.

Not all online programs are created equally. As you evaluate your options for an online master’s degree, make sure you are considering programs that provide an optimal digital learning experience that prioritizes student-to-student interaction. Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies uses the latest best practices in online course design to foster peer engagement, and has offered online courses for more than a decade. Additionally, unlike MOOCs and other online education providers, Brandeis GPS caps courses at 20 students.

3) Make time for social interaction.

Connecting with your classmates on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Slack will allow you to engage on a more informal level. Many people use these tools to share career insights and interesting articles and trends, so you’ll be able to expand your professional network and learn a bit more about your industry. You may even learn about an interesting conference opportunity or a new position to apply to.

In addition to social media, make sure you take advantage of your program’s online learning module. Students at Brandeis GPS use a special social forum to chat about non-course-related events, such as current affairs, sports, or regional networking opportunities.

4) Write with clarity

When it comes to any online interaction, clear and concise writing is critical for optimal communication. But writing with clarity involves more than writing with brevity. Being intentional with the words you choose, how you format your writing, and the tone you mean to convey is essential for fostering strong virtual relationships. Here are some examples of how to write with clarity:

  • Don’t over-complicate things: why use fancy words when simple ones will do? If you do use words that are likely to be unfamiliar to the bulk of your audience, make sure you define them. This relates back to empathetic communication.
  • Keep your paragraphs short in discussion posts or emails – try for one or two sentences per paragraph, if possible.
  • Keep your sentences short.
  • Leverage writing tools like Microsoft Word’s readability stats or the Hemingway App.
  • Avoid passive voice.

5) Take advantage of technology

Today’s technology makes it easy to collaborate. Make your group projects a more seamless experience with tools like:

  • Zoom, which allows for cloud-based video and audio conferencing
  • User-friendly project management apps for virtual teams like Asana or Trello
  • Google Drive, which provides free cloud storage for online documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Drive also has a chat feature, which allows teams to easily collaborate while all working on a document.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps

 

How to balance sunshine and studying

To many graduate students who follow a more traditional academic schedule, summer means pressing pause on their journeys toward an advanced degree. For part-time, online graduate students in programs designed to run all year, summer provides students an opportunity to continue the momentum and complete a degree in less time than they would if their program followed a conventional dual-semester model.

Students enrolled in these types of programs may wonder how their course commitments will impact summer travel and vacation. But taking a summer course does not need to mean the end of your summer fun. Here are some tips for balancing your course load while still enjoying your family, friends, or solo beach time.

Create a realistic plan

As soon as your summer course syllabus is available, read through it. Make note of any big assignments, exams, and final projects. If you know that you are going to be vacationing or having a busy week, then plan to complete your assignments ahead of schedule. Be honest with yourself about how much time you are going to need for your course. One of the worst things you can do when trying to be efficient with coursework is not planning enough time for your assignments; it creates more stress and can lead to work that is not up to par with your abilities. Make time for your assignments by creating a weekly routine that is practical for you. Here are some time management apps that can help you do just that.

Make use of technology

Make use of Wi-Fi and the portability/mobility that comes with an internet connection. Brandeis GPS is an example of a school that allows you to take online classes from any location. You can download course materials directly to your mobile device or laptop while traveling, and also access your classroom while on the go (or by the pool).

Utilize the small moments

Whether you are hanging by the beach or travelling to Japan, there are always small moments when you are on the move but can find a break. There may be no Wi-Fi on a plane or in a car, but you can use the travel time to prep your next discussion response, read through feedback from your instructor, or jot down ideas for your final project. By taking advantage of these spare moments, you may not even realize you’ve chipped away at school-related deadlines.

Find a program that sets you up for success

Brandeis GPS’s upcoming 10-week session runs from July 17 to Sept. 24. Courses are fully online and designed with a learning experience that supports adults working full-time.

Students interested in a Brandeis GPS graduate program can take courses before starting the application process. View the July course schedule here. To speak with an enrollment advisor, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

5 ways to turn a loud home into a quiet study space

As an online student, it can be tricky to find the right place study  particularly if you’re someone who prefers a quiet work-space. If roommates, children, or even a busy street make it challenging for you to find a quiet study environment at home, we’ve got some tips for you!

Continue reading

The best free apps for online students

Students who are earning their master’s degrees while also working full-time have a lot on their plates, and often not a lot of room in their bags. Between laptops, tablets, take-home work assignments or text books, having everything you need to transition from a working professional to an adult learner and back again can be, well…a literal weight on your shoulders. Luckily for us, it’s 2017, and there’s an app for that. Here’s a list of our favorite tools that can studying at work, at home, during your commute, or anywhere in between a little bit easier.

Tiny Scanner Enjoy taking notes on paper, but don’t want to carry your book or notepad along with you? Tiny Scanner allows you to take a picture of any sheet of paper and easily convert it into a PDF to email to yourself. Carry your work with you wherever you go, and don’t lug around more than you have to.

RefME Need some citation help with that research paper? With RefME, you can choose from over 7,500 citation styles, scan the barcode of your book or journal, and RefME automatically fills in the rest. Take some of the stress out of your assignments with this convenient tool.

Google Drive Many of us use the desktop version of Google Drive to store our documents and study materials but can’t easily access these material on our smartphones. Download the Google Drive app and access your files on the go.

Flashcards+ Do you prefer to study with flashcards over your lunch break but keep forgetting to toss them in your briefcase? With Flashcards+, you can create custom-made flashcards and access them on the go. Never worry again about losing a card or two while you’re out and about. These virtual flashcards aren’t going anywhere.

Scribd Create your own custom e-library and download all the books and texts you need.

Graphing Calculator Forget about carrying around your old TI-84. Graphing Calculator handles more complicated data sets than the standard smartphone calculator.

Pandora– Working in a loud space and need some music to put you in your own world? Tip: classical music helps many people focus in a loud space.

1Password– Keep your passwords all in one place with the secure and convenient 1Password app. You’ll save yourself time and effort and you’ll never have to go through the “forgot my password” process again.

Microsoft OneNoteDon’t want to carry around a notepad or notebook? Microsoft OneNote lets you take notes on your smartphone. With this app you can take notes, make to-do lists, and access these documents from anywhere by simply logging into your account.

Did we leave one of your favorite apps off our list? Tweet your suggestions to @BrandeisGPS!

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

How to be a Productive Online Student

Online master’s degrees at accredited universities have become increasingly popular over recent years. Many programs, like the ones offered at Brandeis GPS, cater to professionals who are working full time and are seeking a degree to move the needle on their career. Truly asynchronous programs – where students aren’t required to log into a class at a certain time – allow students to set their own schedule when it comes to their academic study.  But for some online learners, the lack of structure can be a challenge. Below are some tips to help you achieve the perfect work-life-school balance while pursuing an online degree.

Schedule Your Time
Schedule your school time just like you would schedule an appointment or meeting. Consistency can be key. And don’t forget to get creative with your study time. Have a long train ride as part of your commute? Take care of your weekly readings while you ride. Drive to work? See if your text book has an audio version and listen in the car. Find a regular time to do your coursework, and soon it will become a part of your daily routine.

Find Your Place of Productivity
Ask yourself when you are most productive. Perhaps it’s on that long train ride where you easily focus. Are you most productive on Sunday afternoons while sitting in your local library? Do you enjoy staying in your pajamas and doing work from your kitchen table? There is no right answer as everyone has different zones of productivity. Make sure the space where you want to work is available and distraction-free in advance. You will get everything done a lot faster if you go in knowing this is your time and place for coursework.

Take a Break
If you have an assignment deadline approaching, you may be tempted to come home after a long day of work and open your computer to get your schoolwork done as quickly as you can. Don’t do that – you want to put your best foot forward! Separate your job from your coursework, take some time to relax, go to the gym, or eat a snack. Keep your brain power focused on what you’re doing so you can achieve results that make you proud.

Participate and Stay Engaged
In an online classroom, it is easy to keep quiet and only participate when necessary. Don’t take that approach: you’re here to learn, after all! Schools like GPS intentionally offer small classes to foster engagement and collaboration among your peers and instructors.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to be a productive online student, and don’t forget to reach out to your advisor or instructor for guidance.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

The Best Jobs for Life-Work Balance

Glassdoor, a popular jobs and recruitment website, recently released a crowd-sourced list of best jobs for achieving work-life balance. Many of the positions in the Glassdoor list directly correspond to the industry-driven master’s degrees offered at GPS. Among the 29 positions profiled include:

1. Lab Assistant
2. Creative Manager
3. Computer Programmer
4. Marketing Coordinator
5. Data Analyst
6. Content Manager
7. Web Designer
8. Social Media Manager
9. Scrum Master
10. Marketing Analyst
11. Devops Engineer
12. Mobile Developer
13. User Interface Designer
14. Data Scientist
15. User Experience Designer

Whether you currently hold one of the positions above or are interested in advancing into a similar job, you’re probably looking to achieve balance in all areas of your life. For those seeking to pursue a graduate degree, Brandeis GPS fosters a community that is mindful of the multiple demands facing adult learners and while offering the rigorous standards of excellence that makes Brandeis one of the top universities in the country.

On staying cool at the end of the summer term

It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow marks the start of the last week of classes for summer 2016 (time flies when you’re having fun!). If you’re a current student at GPS, this is likely one of your busiest weeks of the year. Perhaps you’re tempted to skip out on your discussion posts as you work to complete your final project. Perhaps you’re struggling to stay focused as your next vacation beckons. But before you mentally check out (or retreat into full-on study hibernation), check out our tips for making the most of your last week of class.

  1. Manage your time. Do what you can to map out what the next eight days are going to look like. Make a checklist of everything you need to do, and carve out blocks of time in your calendar when you know you’ll be able to sit down and focus. Try not to worry about missing out on social events, your kid’s soccer game, or your regular fitness class. Yes, you’re making sacrifices, but it’s only for a week!
  2. Minimize distraction. Try to find a place to study that gets you away from other things that demand your attention. Some students swear by the “white noise” provided by their local coffee shop, while others need the absolute quiet of their office after business hours.
  3. Don’t forget about those discussion posts. As enticing as it is to blow off your discussion posts, please remember that these posts make up 30 percent of your grade.
  4. Take some time to de-stress. Whether it’s a nightly meditation, an extra hour of sleep or a lunchtime walk, find something to do each day that will help you clear your mind. Bonus points if that something doesn’t involve a screen.

Good luck, and remember…

Cheers, you're almost there!

The best discounts for online graduate students

As an online graduate student following a less traditional schedule, it is often easy to forget that you have access to one of the greatest perks of being in school (rigorous education aside, of course) — the student discount!

From technology to entertainment to retail, the possibilities are endless when it comes to student discounts on national brands. We put together the following round up of companies that we think offer the best student discounts for graduate students. Let us know if we’re missing anything!

National student discounts

The best technology discounts for students
If your online graduate program is like Brandeis GPS, you can complete your coursework from any location. Your time is valuable, so stock up on the technology that enables you to learn on the go with the following tech student discounts:

  • Adobe. Benefit from student discounts on Photoshop, Illustrator and more with two different Adobe Creative Suites plans: “all apps” or “photography.” You can find more information on Adobe student discounts here.
  • Apple. Students receive 5% off most Apple purchases, as well as $200 off new Macs and $20 off new iPads. Learn more about Apple’s student discounts for graduate students. Brandeis students can purchase discounted Apple products here.
  • Best Buy. A valid “.edu” email address will get you special Best Buy student discounts on MacBooks, iPads, select Blue Label laptops and more. View Best Buy’s student discounts here.
  • Microsoft. Check out Microsoft’s Education Store for more info on Surface Pro student discounts and other discounted deals on software and tech accessories. Graduate student discounts on Microsoft Office products are also available.

Brandeis students can also take advantage of additional software discounts through Library & Technology Services.

The best retail student discounts
We know that you have a life outside the classroom — and that you have to dress for it. Whether you’re looking for professional attire or something to wear on the weekend, you’ll want to check out the following student discounts on clothing and accessories:

  • Ann Taylor. Register online and receive 15% off a full-price purchase. Ann Taylor student discounts are valid both in stores and online.
  • Banana Republic. Valid in stores only, the Banana Republic student discount will get you 15% off any full-priced item.
  • Eastern Mountain Sports. EMS student discounts include 15% off in-store purchases as well as 20% discounts on EMS brand outerwear and camping equipment. Contact your favorite Eastern Mountain Sports location for more information.

Additional student discounts for brands across the country
Last but not least, these online student discounts will come in handy for work, school or play:

  • Get rid of those pesky ads and access your playlists on the go with a 50% student discount on Spotify Premium. Learn more.

Remember, all students at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies receive student ID cards. Subscribe to our blog for other student tips.

If you’d like to learn more about other benefits of a Brandeis GPS education, contact our admissions team at 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu

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