Hello to my fellow students, I have wanted to make a series of posts on studying for a while now. I spend 5 days a week working for my degree and I have picked up a few strategies during my education that may help one or two of you. I hope that my experiences can be of help to someone. Have a nice day :)
Wake up early
The way you start your day generally sets the scene for the rest of your day. That’s why every day I wake up at 7am, eat my breakfast and then immediately start studying. This allows me to fit in those extra hours of studying instead of pressing the snooze buttons on their alarm clocks. It took me a while to get in to the swing of this but it’s become a habit and 7am no longer feels that early, I get so much more work done and feel great about myself!
Be clever with note taking
Taking notes is a skill that we all perfect in our own individual ways. Whatever way you find most effective will be the most effective for you even if it is not for someone else. I like to type my notes and I use Evernote to do this as it allows me to sync all my devices together and have my notes saved everywhere.
If your lecturer uses slides, this gives you a chance to listen. Why take down every word on the slide and miss the important information they say if your lecturer has already made the information available to you. I see many people just copying down lecture slides when what you really need to do is take down the words that come out of their mouths. Later, combine all the information together - this is important. I have made the mistake of forgetting to combine it all and then not knowing what on earth I was writing about a few months down the line.
Schedule your entire term
I schedule everything months in advance - right now I know what my day will look like in 2 months time. I use the calendar on my iphone as this syncs with my ipad and my university email account. A simple diary and a bit of colour coordination would work just as nicely. I enter in all my lectures and seminars and I schedule in my study time. This keeps me accountable so I know when I should be studying. I also make a rough plan of what I should be studying each day. This is especially useful for planning in study time leading up to exams so I know which exam I am revising for each day, this is especially helpful when exams are not spread out as conveniently as we may like.
If you have an essay or assignment due in, don’t leave it until a few days before to start it, or even worse the night before. My university has a strict policy on late submissions and so there is absolutely no leeway period. If it is even 30 seconds late we are penalised. Usually all my essays are due in the last week of term, but this usually equates to around 10,000+ words worth of essays due in at once. This means around 2 months before everything is due I have to start my research for my essays so that I can complete them to the required standard and still have time to do my weekly readings for my classes.
Talk to your lecturers/teachers
Developing a relationship with your lecturers makes you stand out from the rest of their students. Most lecturers have office hours where you can go and ask them questions and get help on things you struggle with. I regularly see my lecturers about my essays or any academic problems I may have. I have found since I made myself known to my lecturers they are much more willing to make an effort to help me out. The lecturers who know me best are always willing to give me advice when I am having a bad day and they have opened doors for me that I otherwise would not have had. Realising they are human beings like you and me can be pretty weird, they go through life like everyone else. But remember to respect them as they deserve and always use your pleases and thank yous - they go a long way.
When you get an essay or assignment back you may get a few sentences off your lecturer (or whoever is marking it) telling you what was good and what needs to be improved upon. Sometimes this can be useful but it s really good to get a further explanation of what you’ve done well on and exactly how they think you could get a better mark next time. Lecturers are happy to help you, after all, it is their job! My main tutor (or academic advisor as they are called at my uni) encourages me to always ask for further feedback, and he is right to do so as this is always an extremely productive exercise. Even if you get A grades, its good to know why and how you can go from an A to an A+ and feedback can help you across subjects as often what is picked up on is not subject specific.
Be honest with your self
Many students think that they are working hard and can not understand why they don’t get good grades. I think this was probably me when I first started at university. I thought working for 2 hours (at most) a day was enough to get a good degree. I was, of course, mistaken. But I completely believed I was a normal, hard working student. However, once I was honest with my self I realised this was not enough. I am having to make up for this now by working extra hard to bring my grades up to where I would like them to be. Another issue is that students who get distracted easily can take a 5 min break which turns into an hour break. If you’re not honest with yourself that you’re doing this, you will never break the habit. Procrastinating now will only make you stress more later. Is it worth it?