Getting ready for school online

Sept. 10, 2013
While school sessions seem to start earlier every year, September is the month many find themselves looking for last-minute classes, finishing up the tail end of necessary paperwork ...

by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS

While school sessions seem to start earlier every year, September is the month many find themselves looking for last-minute classes, finishing up the tail end of necessary paperwork, and settling into the beginning of a new year of studies. College town rentals are scarce now and high school parking lots are full as many return to postvacation life. Many things have changed since my university days, but basic needs remain the same: students need to stretch dollars, decrease stress, keep grades up, and ultimately, prepare for a postgraduate existence.

There was a time when textbooks were bought at the campus bookstore where you could buy new or used and you paid the price on the cover. Grumbling was rampant, but the situation was accepted as part of the student experience. Now one can purchase textbooks from numerous sources, both brick store and online, and you can compare prices before handing over your cash.

One of the easiest sites I found for comparing prices references mostly online purchasing options and does a good job of categorizing books by condition and format.1 One can type in the ISBN, title, author, or even just keywords to find the needed book. I liked this site because it also has a section offering ebooks of many titles. I tested it by typing "Esther Wilkins" under author and found Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist ranging in price from $66 to $104 and a rental option for $25.01.


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For those lacking the time for Internet comparison, there is an app for that. Amazon offers Amazon Student for Android users. Simply scan the barcode to price check textbooks as well as other school-related items. The application can be downloaded on most Android devices from the Play Store for Android apps or by visiting the site.2 This app can also be used to sell back textbooks, electronics, and even games for Amazon gift cards.

Along with classes, books, and costs, September has been known to usher in heightened levels of stress. Good news for stressed-out students everywhere is: There is a way to beat it. According to the American Psychological Association, exercise can improve mental health by helping the brain better deal with stress.3 The authors believe exercise is not just about endorphins, but it actually teaches the body to deal with stress better and forces the psychological systems to communicate more closely. If you need another reason to make exercise a part of your academic calendar, consider this: according to Glade Knight of Westminster College, exercise can lead to a higher GPA.4 I'm not claiming this piece is hard science, but a scholarship or two might go a long way in decreasing school-year anxiety.

I know I am the worst person to preach the necessity of sleep, but the experts have been telling us for some time that adequate rest is essential for health, memory, and even longevity. For students, taking a break to sleep can improve academic performance. A July 2011 article by Adam Persky, PhD, states, "Sleep is a prime time to process new information."5 While his information is directed at instructors, I believe learners and practitioners can gain valuable insights in his words.

Begin building relationships with mentors and friendships with leaders early in your educational journey – more importantly, keep up this exercise beyond graduation. Friendships not only lead to more successful feelings about yourself, they also often become powerful employment tools. Consider wisely your Facebook postings: your comments should encourage positive interaction among peers. I strongly recommend looking into professional social sites such as as well. You can find a list of the 20 top professional social sites and choose those best suited to your needs.6

September is the month for jumping into educational pursuits; yet these tips are valuable beyond the classroom. After all, each of us is a lifelong learner. Keep the brain sharp and the friendships strong for a healthier and happier journey through this education called life. RDH

LORY LAUGHTER, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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