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Study Tips

I think the hardest part about studying is finding the motivation to actually sit down and do it. It is tricky to find the right motivation, but I want to share the things that worked for me.

For me the motivation to study comes easy. I am always thinking about the future and planning ahead. I plan when to study and eat and see my friends. So, I know that in order to get where I need to be I have to make good grades. So, I am always motivated to study. Also, I get so much satisfaction from doing my best on a test. I am my own worst critic. I never think anything I do is good enough so I am always striving to be better.

The second hardest thing is finding your study spot. However, your campus should provide plenty of places for you to study comfortably. For me, the library was always a great spot because I feel more motivated around other people who are studying as well.

All throughout high school, teachers have probably tried to teach everyone the same way. They stand up at the front and lecture and expect you to take notes. They expect everyone to be able to learn the same way. That is simply not true. If you struggled in high school it is more likely that you learn a different way than that you are stupid. I believe everyone can be successful if they find a way that works for them.

So typically people are four types of learners; visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing. For me, I learn the best when I do all four of these things. Typically, I study by using visual, auditory, and writing tools all at once. I have found that this is the way I learn best.

If I am struggling to understand a topic, especially in chemistry, I will get on YouTube and watch Crash Course videos or Khan Academy. Sometimes I will take notes from these videos or just watch and listen.

All of your professor’s you have in college will all be very brilliant. However, this doesn’t mean they will be a good teacher. Some are fantastic, while others are not. My professor for intro biology was a not so great teacher. So, I had to rely on myself to teach myself the material. I watched every video on cell respiration and photosynthesis. I took notes on top of notes and used every resource available to me. When I studied for that class I would go topic by topic and write down everything I knew about it. I would go through vocabulary words and be sure I knew everyone of them.

For me, studying by trying to teach the subject matter was what helped me the most in biology. The concepts were very in depth and required you to be able to connect two ideas together. So, after watching a video or going through my notes, I would stand at my white board and pretend I was teaching the material I had just learned. So, that is one studying technique I used.

However, for math and chemistry I would study a little differently. My Chem two professor was similar to my biology professor so I taught myself a majority of the subject matter. A big tip for studying for math or chemistry, DO NOT START STUDYING THE NIGHT BEFORE. That is definitely not a challenge. I will tell you why in a second. So the way to study for these subjects is honestly by doing a bunch of practice problems. So, if you need to watch videos or get out tools to help you visualize the problems make sure you do that as well. So, a couple of days before a test I would start at the beginning of the chapter/s and go through each concept and do the practice problem that is worked out in the chapter. Don’t just copy it down. Try to complete the next step before looking at the answers. After I made it through the whole book I would try to complete at least one practice problem of each kind of problem (usually odd numbered ones because they have answers in the back of the book). That is why I suggest starting a couple days before because you are going to be doing a lot of problems and many of them will take more than a couple minutes. Personally, I can’t study really late or for a really long period of time. Also, pulling all nighters honestly hurts you more than it helps so I definitely do not suggest that either.

My other study habits are making notecards for the classes that are more memorization and less critical thinking. If you put a visuals with the notecard that can also help with remembering. I also rewrote my notes. I took notes on my tablet so each day before class I would rewrite my notes and that helped me store information from the lectures and helped me be able to study less later.

Whatever study technique you choose be sure that it helps you store the information for good. You are at college to learn skills you will use for your career, remember that. Also, if you retain the information throughout the year, studying for finals will be much easier and less stressful.

I hope these tips were helpful and that you find a technique that works for you!

Time Mangement

When I was still in high school, one of the questions I asked college students frequently was, “What’s the hardest part about college?”

The answer I received the majority of the time was, “Time management.”

They would go on to talk about how important tests are and how they sneak up on you in the beginning. Usually, I would just nod and listen as they went on talking about time management; but, honestly, I didn’t quite grasp what they were trying to tell me. I already knew that tests were important. “Aren’t all tests important?” is what I would usually think. I thought that I was prepared for college in regards to time management because I knew how crucial it was to pass the tests in college.

However, knowing that passing tests is the key for success and knowing how to pass the tests are two different concepts. After being in college for a year, I realize that all the people I talked to either thought time management was a concept every one knew or didn’t actually know how to manage their time, yet. Many of my friends I made at college hadn’t figured out how to manage their time by the end of the year.

There are many different ways to go about managing your time; the key is to find the strategy that works best for you.

So, what does time management mean exactly? Well, the answer to that is pretty obvious. Time management is the ability to do all the activities and things you need to do in an efficient and successful manner. It is the ability to balance everything in your life in perfect harmony. In respect to college, it is the capability to have time for friends, sleep, work, classes, and studying. Trying to manage all of that into perfect harmony is near impossible, but even trying to manage it reasonably efficient is tricky. However, I was able to find a tactic that worked for me pretty quick and hopefully it will work for you!

Typically, professor’s will assign tests for the 3rd or 4th week of class and those first few of my tests actually did sneak up on me. I was prepared for them, but not as well as I would have liked to be. By the second semester, I was ready for those first few tests. The best thing to do is get a monthly or weekly calendar system and write all the dates of your tests for the whole semester. This way you will be able to see the weeks that you have more than one test and when your first tests are.

I think one of the reasons that those first tests sneak up on you is because professor’s will not mention their tests until it is the last class before the exam. It is your responsibility to know when your tests are.

After I wrote down all my exam dates, I would plan my studying hours. I would write down my schedule in a calendar and look at when I had hours open to study. I wouldn’t plan my studying hours the first week, but definitely by the end of the second week. So, after planning when I would study, I would write it down in an hourly planner that I bought so I could manage my time. Typically, I would write what subject I needed to study and how I was going to study. After that I would fill in the rest of my day or week with the other things I needed to accomplish.

Now, this is where it will change based on each individual. For me, I liked to schedule my study sessions spread out the week before a test, because I am not a last minute crammer. If I cram, I will not learn anything. So I spend 30 minutes to an hour a day the week before a test studying for that class. However, if longer studying sessions are your forte than go for it.  Just know that it is a proven fact that the students that get less sleep before an exam do worse than those who get a solid 8 hours. Sleep helps transfer short term memory into long term memory, so the best thing to do after a long day of studying is to get a good night’s rest.

Also, typically cramming does not lead to the student remembering the information later on. So, when finals week rolls around students are left to relearn all the material from the whole year. Honestly, that is just impossible to do for all of your classes. So, my suggestion for you is to spread out your study days so, you are able to learn the material better and won’t be left panicking during dead week (the week before finals week).

The weeks that you have two tests are the hardest and the best thing to do is start studying a week in advance for both tests. If you study a little each night, you will find yourself not having to study for hours the night before each test.

I think the hardest part about managing your time in college is being so close to your friends. You are going to want to spend every night with your friends, but if you want to keep good grades, time away from your friends is necessary; especially, if you have a part time job. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND A FEW NIGHTS A WEEK STUDYING WITHOUT SEEING YOUR FRIENDS.

The way I managed my social life was I always kept Friday evenings and Saturdays open for friend time. Then I spent all day Sunday doing laundry and homework. After the weekend, I would asses my schedule for the week and see which nights I could hang out with my friends. I know it sounds lame to schedule in friend time, but I had to so I could stay on top of my studies.

The next part of time management is figuring out when to nap/sleep. Personally, I tried to never nap because I just felt awful when I woke up. So, I avoided my dorm room until all of my classes were over so I would not be tempted to nap. However, if naps are your thing (like my roommate, who napped constantly), then you need to figure out the best time for them.

Honestly, after a couple of weeks of writing my schedule down with classes, working out, work, studying, and social life; I found a pattern and I knew when to study and when to relax. The trick is to get into that daily schedule as quickly as possible and stick to it.

The next step in time management is figuring out where to study. I could study in my room, but most people I know can not do that. So, that first week before classes start, scout out quiet spots. As you walk to classes that first week, look for places you would like to study. Then try a few out a see which are your favorites.

If you are totally logged with information here are a few key points from this blog:

  1. BE AWARE OF THOSE FIRST TESTS – WRITE ALL OF YOUR TESTS IN A CALENDAR
  2. PLAN YOUR STUDY TIME
  3. DON’T CRAM
  4. STAY AWAY FROM YOUR FRIENDS SOMETIMES
  5. GET INTO A ROUTINE
  6. STICK TO IT

You can do it. Don’t stress and get some sleep!

College Journey

The summer after your high school graduation is the longest and shortest time of your life. All you can think about is getting out of the house and into the dorms. You’re ready to be free and away from your looming parents. The problem is, once most people are free, they don’t know how to manage their lives. Without mom or dad around, freshman tend to go wild and forget that they are actually at school. However, this wasn’t the case for me. While most of my peers let their grades drop, I was able to maintain a 4.0 my freshman year.

Most of you probably are thinking, “She must of stayed in her room all day studying.” On the contrary, I was able to maintain a good social, work, and school life and still achieve success. Many have seen the picture that says “choose two; social life, good grades, or sleep.” This picture has given the idea that all three can’t be achieved, but I am living proof that they can all be achieved. This blog is about my tricks, habits, and tactics for navigating through college.

My journey is a rare one and I wanted to share it all with you so it can become a common occurrence with all college students. I will provide studying techniques, time managing tactics and other habits of mine that has made my college experience a fun and successful one.

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