7 Simple Tips to Succeed In College

September 9, 2015


7 Simple Tips to Succeed in College 

With school now well under way, it means stress is looming just around the corner. There are tests, quizzes and final exams, all while maintaining a social life. Being a successful college student is a daunting task, but doable with a little planning and preparation. Here are a few tips and tricks to start prepping now before the first exam sneaks up on you:

  • Go to class. It doesn’t get more obvious than that, but late nights and early morning classes make hitting snooze pretty appealing. Life has a tendency to get in the way and when a professor doesn’t take attendance, it’s easy to make excuses to skip class. If you want to know what you’ll need to study, it’s best to get it straight from the source.
  • Take good notes. Using a laptop or tablet makes jotting down important tidbits quick and easy, but also carries the heavy temptation of distractions, like checking emails or blowing up Twitter with #MostBoringLectureEver updates. If you are going the good old fashion route of pen and paper note-taking, use different ink colors or highlighters for marking potential vocab words, important facts or when your professor flat out says, “This is going to be on the test.”
  • Start studying now. Maybe your first test won’t be for another few weeks, but now is the perfect time to start committing information to your long term memory. Spend just a few minutes each day reviewing your notes or create a small stack of flash cards to have an easy, portable study tool to use. Set aside small chunks of time every day and when test day arrives, you’ll find most of the information is much easier to recall.
  • Find a study buddy. Get together with a classmate or two to divide and conquer the class materials. Take turns learning about different sections and teaching it to one another. When you are able to teach the subject to someone else and answer their questions, chances are you have a firm understanding of the core concept and can move onto mastering the next one.
  • Set up a study-only zone. When it comes to effective study, the key is location, location, location. Remove yourself from potential distractions by avoiding areas with televisions, radios, friends or even your phone. Conveniently, the library has already done this for you which makes it an ideal location. But if it’s after hours or you don’t live near one, find a room at home with the least ambient noise. Ideally, silence is the most conducive for effective study time.
  • Schedule your distractions. A general rule of thumb is for every hour of class, you should have two hours for studying and completing assignments. Schedule a short ten to fifteen minute break during study time to use the bathroom, move around a bit and check Facebook. Set an alarm to mark the beginning of your break so you won’t feel the need to compulsively check the clock and a second alarm to sound when it’s time to get back to work.
  • Be physically ready on exam day. It’s tempting to spend a few extra hours of cram time the night before a big test, but being bleary-eyed and exhausted during the exam is far more harmful to your grades. Avoid caffeine the night before as it stays in your system up to 8 hours and instead aim for 8 hours of sleep and getting a filling breakfast. The energy will help you power through your exam and keep your stomach from being a growling distraction.

Keep calm and test on!

Heart of Florida United Way believes education, both in and out of the classroom, is a lifelong experience and the most influential factor in ensuring a child will grow up to succeed.  To help ensure students get the education they deserve, we fund many programs that serve people from cradle through career, such as mentoring and tutoring services, literacy initiatives, food pantries, medical services and clothing. To get help, please call the 2-1-1 Information and Assistance line. For more information about how Heart of Florida United Way invests in education, visit our website.  


Target Helps Ventura Elementary

April 17, 2015


Since 1962, Target has supported communities with projects through the United Way. In 2014, Target team members nationwide volunteered nearly 250,000 hours as part of the annual United Way campaign.

Target looks to provide opportunities for team members to be involved in the community and make a difference, particularly in the area of education, a core focus area for the United Way as well.

Recently, 88 area representatives from 18 Target stores—including employees from as far away as Gainesville and Ocala—joined together to help Ventura Elementary in Kissimmee.

Ventura Elementary was chosen for Target’s Annual Wellness Day partly because of a recent incident at the school. In February, the school playground was set on fire, resulting in over $60,000 worth of damage to the grounds.

“We knew we had to do something,” said Target employee and volunteer Laisa Cotto. “We wanted to do something for both the kids and the teachers that was a real and visible change.”

Target’s Executive Leadership Team was motivated to help the school. They reached out to Danielle Wolfe, a United-Way funded Americorps VISTA and coordinator at Ventura Elementary to see what they could do.

“It was the perfect time for Target to reach out,” said Danielle. “The kids and teachers needed to know the community was thinking of them.”

With Danielle and the school management, Target identified several projects, including improving the school’s landscaping and repainting the teacher’s lounge.

“We’re constantly looking for how we can help,” said Target District Team Leader Mike Slaton. “Education is a key focus for us, and this was an opportunity to make an impact. I have three boys of my own in school, so this is near and dear to my heart.”

With donations of plants and mulch from Uncle Jutty’s Nursery in Kissimmee, Target volunteers were able to freshen and rejuvenate the school’s campus, making it a source of pride for the students and community.

Students and teachers alike now have a beautiful and revitalized campus and they know firsthand that the community cares deeply for them and for their continued success.

For information about how your business can take part in volunteer activities, visit the Volunteer Resource Center.

Spring Cleaning for a Cause

April 3, 2015

B&G Poinciana Bank of America 6

Spring is here and with it comes the desire to freshen up your living space and reduce clutter. More than 70% of Americans participate in some kind of spring cleaning ritual. But once the cleaning is done and the clutter removed, many people battle with what to do with the leftover clothes, household items and books.

Heart of Florida United Way has an annual book drive to benefit children and can be a huge help to those looking for a new home for their unwanted, gently used books.

The Day of Action Book Drive was started to fulfill an unmet need in the Central Florida community. Summer reading loss is a real issue facing school-aged children. Students can lose up to 25% of their reading proficiency over the course of the summer.

Having access to and reading just 4 books can prevent the summer slide and even improve reading levels.

Income and the expense of books is the largest barrier to book access, and children are often unable to make it to a library due to their parent’s work schedules or transportation issues.

In middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books to children is 13 to 1. But in lower income neighborhoods, the ratio is a staggering 1 book for every 300 children.

This causes significant impact to classroom instruction, taking up 22% of classroom time and taking up to a month of instructional time to make up the reading proficiency lost.

By cleaning out your bookcases and donating your old favorites, you can help children improve their literacy and set them up on the path to success.

You can help by hosting a book drive or just bringing in your books to Heart of Florida United Way’s office May 25-29.For more information, visit the HFUW website.

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Check Out Behind the Scenes of Dress2Learn

November 10, 2014


Dress2Learn inventory being sorted.

Dress2Learn is about homeless students and new clothes. It’s that simple. But it’s a brand new name for people in Central Florida to become familiar with. To help with that, Heart of Florida United Way held a behind-the-scenes event that gave attendees a sneak peek at how Dress2Learn works.

United Way President and CEO Robert H. (Bob) Brown did the honors of explaining Dress2Learn’s core mission, which is to provide four new items of clothing to Orange and Osceola county homeless children, and Dress2Learn’s virtual fundraising strategy. Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins and School District of Osceola County Deputy Superintendent Tom Phelps were also on-hand to lend their insights as to the effects inadequate clothing can have on the self-esteem and academic performance of homeless children.


Models Christian and Kaylee

The highlight of the event was the Dress2Learn fashion show, in which models Christian and Kalee proudly strutted the new clothes being provided by Levi’s.

Thousands of Orange and Osceola homeless students are going without adequate clothing for school. Dress2Learn can change that. So can you. Launch your fundraiser today.

To see more coverage from the Dress2Learn event, check out this blog from Orlando Sentinel columnist Kate Santich.




Dress2Learn orders being fulfilled.

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