The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Category: Be Balanced (page 2 of 3)

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

How to be a successful online grad student this summer

For part-time, online graduate students, “school’s out for the summer” doesn’t necessarily apply.  Many colleges and universities offer summer terms, which bridge the gap between the traditional fall and spring semesters and allow students who are working full-time the opportunity to complete their graduate programs that much sooner.Brandeis Summer 1 - Brandeis GPS Blog - Brandeis GPS online Education

At the same time, taking classes from May to July doesn’t have to put a damper on your summer travel plans. GPS courses are fully online and asynchronous, meaning that students can access their coursework from any location and timezone. Here are some tips for managing your course load even when those beach trips, weddings and music festivals beckon:

  • Plan as far in advance as you can and be realistic. Look at what you have coming up over the next 10 weeks and make note of any out-of-town travel or big events. Check your syllabus and see when your big assignments and/or final projects or exams are due. If you know you’re spending a week away or have a particularly busy weekend, plan to complete your readings or discussion posts as early on as you can. Be honest with yourself about how much time you’ll need for your coursework each week, and build a schedule that’s feasible for you.

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  • Take advantage of the technology. Grab the Brandeis app for your phone or tablet and access your classroom on the go. Most of the textbooks assigned by our instructors are also available for e-readers.
  • Don’t be afraid of disconnecting. Summer travel generally involves planes, trains and long car rides (with or without wifi). With a little advanced planning and downloading, these large blocks of travel time can be a great opportunity to catch up on your reading, write your discussion posts or work on your final project.

Good luck to everyone taking courses this summer! For more information on GPS courses or graduate programs, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

How to Stay Balanced

Written by: Scarlett Huck

Do you find yourself struggling to balance your career and your academics? Maybe you work a full time job and would like to return to school but are unsure of how to do so. Or perhaps you are enrolled in school while also focusing on your career, leaving you in with an overwhelming state of stress. While it may seem impossible, there are ways to balance your life. Take a deep breath and follow these easy steps!

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Communicate. This can help on a number of levels. If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to someone: a colleague, a friend or a family member. Two brains are always better than one at problem solving! Often, simply talking about your problems reduces your stress level. Communication is also important between you, your job and your education. For instance, if you are working a full time job but are interested in returning to school, meet with your boss. With clear communication, your boss can even see this as beneficial.

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Plan your finances. A large concern about school is the fiscal responsibility. While the price tag may seem intimidating, there are practical ways to pay off the bills. One of the easiest ways is to speak to your employer. Often companies reimburse their employees tuition in order to have well-educated, more qualified workers. You are not limited there, you can also apply for scholarships (often merit-based) or work for the school in your free time. Brandeis GPS also offers employers tuition discounts! This can be very helpful when looking to get an affordable degree.

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Disconnect. Yes, we are all living in the 21st century and this means we are constantly glued to our smartphones, tablets and laptops. This instills a sense of easy accessibility and contributes to the amount of time we spend on our devices. While this ease of access is great for work and school, attempt to minimize their use in your free time. Notifications are not easily ignored, adding a sense of stress to a non-work or school environment. Turn off your devices and enjoy what is happening; emails and texts can wait.

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Stay Healthy. Your body is your friend and you need to take care of it. It is easy to say you are too busy, you don’t have time to exercise or cook a healthy dinner. However, busy people have a tendency to drive their bodies (and therefore their immune systems) into the ground. Waking up early, spending a day stressing, running around, drinking infinite cups of coffee and staying up late just to wake up and do it all over again causes a strain on your body. Make time for a few stress-relieving exercises and stretches, find quick recipes for healthy food in a hurry to keep your body running strong and make getting enough sleep a priority. Pay attention to your health and keep in mind that it is much more difficult to be efficient once you’re sick!

With these tips in mind, you are ready to balance your life! Be sure to check out Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies to see if our online courses could be a good fit for you. We offer rolling admissions and flexible programs to fit your busy schedule!

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20 Mantras Great Leaders Live By Every Day

Written by James Curtiss | @

Original post

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This post originally appeared on the Sales section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

Leadership can be a difficult characteristic to understand. Which qualities make someone a good leader? Do those same qualities translate to all aspects of life, or can a person successfully lead a sports team but fail in the boardroom? Are people born leaders, or can anyone inspire others to follow them?

I won’t pretend to know the answers to these questions, and I doubt that many people do.

But when I think about what it takes to be an effective leader, I am invariably reminded of late summer conversations with my grandfather on the deck of his home on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. We talked about anything and everything together — from the current state of Red Sox Nation to the most effective technique for shucking the cherrystone clams we collected earlier that day. But, on occasion, the discussion would drift towards more business-oriented topics and I got a free lesson in leadership studies from one of the very best.

To provide a little background, Don Davis, my grandfather, left a distinguished career in corporate America in 1988 to pursue his “retirement” as a professor at MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations program. During his 22-year tenure at the school, he shared the lessons he learned from his time in business and inspired more than a few of today’s most influential leaders.

As I am sure any of his former students will tell you, it would be nearly impossible to boil down all of his lessons into a single blog post. Fortunately, those same students were kind enough to compile a Memory Book after he passed away in order to share some of his most important teachings, namely the 20 leadership mantras that were core to his curriculum.

Here are those 20 mantras, along with some insight from our Martha’s Vineyard discussions. (For a more personal explanation of how these mantras helped various students succeed in business, you can find the Memory Book in its entirety here.)

1) Leaders don’t choose their followers. Followers choose their leaders.

One cannot simply choose to lead a group of people. You may be a leader in title, but you’re not a legitimate leader if your followers do not believe in you and your vision.

2) Followers choose leaders they trust, respect, and feel comfortable with.

If you don’t have the trust and respect of your followers, how are you supposed to make the connection necessary to inspire them to achieve great things?

3) Be yourself. The number of leadership styles is limitless.

There is no scientific formula for what makes a good leader, only a belief in your own ability as well as the ability of your followers to be successful.

4) Leaders need a base of power and authority — but the more they use it, the less there is left.

Needless to say, effective leadership requires a certain amount of authority. Like most forms of capital, that power is finite. Use it sparingly and only when necessary.

5) The best leadership is based on persuasion.

Anyone can have a vision. Leaders have the ability to persuade others to believe in their vision.

6) Leaders set the ethical standards and tone of their organizations by their behavior.

As a leader, you set the example. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want printed on the cover of the New York Times. Your followers are avid readers.

7) Integrity is the bedrock of effective leadership. Only you can lose your integrity.

Unethical behavior is a slippery slope. Avoid the slope at all costs because everyone slips.

8) “Selfship” is the enemy of leadership.

A true leader cares more about the success of his/her followers than their own success.

9) Be quick to praise, but slow to admonish. Praise in public, but admonish in private.

If you’re going to praise someone, do it big. If you’re going to reprimand, make sure it is warranted and do so in a respectful manner.

10) One of a leader’s key responsibilities is stamping out self-serving politics when they emerge.

As a leader, your job is to inspire the entire group. No single person is bigger than the group, not even the leader.

11) Be sure to know as much as possible about the people you are leading.

How can you inspire someone if you don’t know what motivates them?

12) One manages things, but people lead people.

It may be a bit cliché, but at the end of the day, followers are human beings. Don’t lose sight of that reality.

13) Diversity in an organization is not only legally required and socially desired — it’s also effective.

Every problem, obstacle, or issue has a different solution. Different perspectives make it much easier to identify the right solution.

14) Leadership should be viewed as stewardship.

Leader and teacher are synonyms, even if the Thesaurus tool in Microsoft Word doesn’t agree.

15) Don’t make tough decisions until you need to. Most will solve themselves with time.

Procrastination isn’t always a negative tendency. Don’t jump to conclusions. Sometimes you just have to give the problem time to work itself out.

16) When making decisions about people, listen to your gut.

Believe in your ability to identify the right talent. It’s your vision, so you should be able to recognize when a person embodies that vision.

17) People can see through manipulation and game-playing. Everyone can spot a phony.

This goes back to the mutual respect and trust that must exist between a leader and follower. Don’t undermine that mutual respect via manipulation. You’ll lose followers.

18) Learn to say, out loud, “I was wrong” and “I don’t know.”

You may be a leader, but you’re not omniscient. Don’t pretend to be.

19) If you know a plan or decision is wrong, don’t implement it. Instead, keep talking.

Don’t try to jam a square peg in a circular hole. Work with your team to figure out a way to round the edges of the peg so it fits properly.

20) Each of us has potential to lead, follow or be an individual contributor.

Potential is limitless and everyone has the ability to contribute to the success of a particular vision. It all depends on how strongly they believe in that vision.

There is no recipe for what makes a good leader, but these mantras can provide valuable guidelines. I wouldn’t trade those talks on the deck for anything.

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5 Tips for Surviving Week 10

By: Cara Chatellier

The ninth week of a ten week course can be a very telling time. There is a strong urge to coast through. You have to fight every fiber in your body to skip your discussion posts and put your feet up.

Being in my third course, I have learned a few tips to power through final posts, papers, and tests to complete courses and pass with flying colors.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to excel during the final days of your course with Brandeis Graudate Professional Studies!

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Tip 1: Map out your time

During the final weeks of your course, it can be easy to put off work until the last minute. Make sure you are mapping out chunks of time where you can sit down and focus.
Find a quiet place away from children, spouses, friends and other distractions. Many times I will stay late in my office to finish my course work. Nothing keeps you motivated like being a lonely office building– you can’t wait to finish and get home!

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Tip 2: Don’t ignore discussion posts

Discussion posts account for at least 30% of your grade in every course. Even if your research paper and final project and looming, you never want to ignore your discussions. These posts allow you to apply your knowledge from that week, ignoring them is only a disservice to you!

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Tip 3: Find a Study Buddy

Finding someone you can do school work with makes buckling down and getting things done a bit easier. Whether you are hunkered down at your local coffee shop or sitting at your kitchen table, having a pal to commiserate with makes the task a bit easier.

Having trouble finding an in-person study buddy? Try OnlineCollege.org, a website that shows you how to create a virtual study group!

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Tip 4: Reward yourself

Once you have finished your paper, or your discussions for the week, give yourself a little treat. Nothing motivates me more than knowing chocolate and peanut butter are waiting
for me after I hit submit on my second reply of the week.

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Tip 5: Make sure you’re sleeping enough

The UCLA newsroom explains, if a “student sacrifices sleep time in order to study more than usual, he or she is likely to have more academic problems, not less, on the following day.”

It’s important to study, but cramming is not the answer! Space out your time and get your ZZZZZZ’s.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Best of luck in your final days and make sure you celebrate once all your assignments are submitted, you earned it!

RSVP to 11/18’s Webinar: Next Generation Teaching and Learning: Navigating Opportunities in the Cloud

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The Balance of Life and Learning

Tom Burt is a recent graduate of our Master of Science in Project and Program Management Program. He is currently the Administrative Contracting Officer for GSA/FAS/Supplier Management. Below is his story about his journey through e-learning at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies.

“I always knew I would have to go back to school.  My father presource-schedulingresented a perfect example of that—nearing the end of his career, he had been unable to advance any further in his field because he lacked a four-year degree.  For my generation, I equate that to not
having a graduate degree.  Not wanting to be held back from a promotion, going back to school seemed a necessary evil; however, it was a terrifying thought.  Travelling to classes, giving up nights and weekends, simply finding the time to work on assignments—there was no way I would be able to do all that.  Then a co-worker told me about Brandeis GPS, and all my fears went away.

Online Learning made it all possible for me.  I bought my first home about the same time I started my Program and Project Management degree; due to the nature of the program, I was able to balance the challenges of purchasing a home while keeping up with studies.  Also thanks to online learning, I was able to take vacations during semesters!  On ski trips Slimmedto the western US with friends each year, I started every day with a couple hours of school work (and gallons of coffee) before hitting the slopes.  I also remember a trip to Italy for a family wedding that coincided with Professional Communication.  Had I been enrolled in a traditional classroom-based program, I may not have been able to make the trip; instead, I was posting discussion responses while riding the Rome to Florence train, using the onboard wireless, all while traveling at 250 kilometers per hour!  Grazie Brandeis!  Finally, in the last couple semesters, I was able to attend classes while training for an Ironman triathlon (as much as twenty hours of training per week) while also managing to not get fired from my job!

Graduate school does not have to be a life-consuming event, nor should it be.  There is much to be enjoyeBurtofficeslimmedd in life, such as home-ownership, vacations, and the pursuit of personal goals.  These opportunities absolutely can occur, even while maintaining a career and a family.  Not having to sacrifice other opportunities meant everything to me (and also meant the courses flew by in no time!).  Brandeis GPS was and is the key to this ever-important balance of life and learning.  Having achieved this milestone, I can now start
looking forward in my career, confident that I have the educational qualifications to support my endeavors. ”

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