Spring semester is a tough semester. You start off ready to kick schools ass, high off of the positivity & motivation from the new year. There are no football games, only spring break to look forward to, & you’re finally adjusting to slowing down & focusing on work (hopefully). It is easy to lose drive fast when the classes you are taking begin to feel like too much & theres nothing super exciting happening at the moment, but to be successful you have to remember that feeling & keep the drive alive. Here are some tips & tricks that I implement to keep me ahead in my work, on top of my classes, & successful in those classes.
1. Read the syllabus.
I don’t mean listen to your professor go on about the financial aid requirement & the final exam date. I mean print out the syllabus & actually read & understand how the class functions.It is important to know how your teacher grades, weighs each section of the grade, and their attendance/late work policies. If you don’t read the syllabus & push off doing homework to find out halfway through the semester that homework is 50% of your grade because it is mainly your source of studying & what the tests are based on, you have no one to blame but yourself. Know what you need to do to succeed & reach the grade in the class that you want. If the professor only has three grades all semester & they’re all tests, make sure you study. If homework is 5% of your grade, then maybe you think it’s ok to focus on a harder class instead of doing homework. You need to understand each grading scale to plan accordingly & do what you need to do to get the grade you are aiming for.
2. Take notes before class.
I know not all professors do this, but if your professor puts the class powerpoint notes on their webpage, write those down the night/morning before class. This way you can use the corresponding heading from the power points they are going over & write down what they are actually saying. I find it very difficult to listen to the professor AND write down what is on the screen. This way, I can get all of the information I need by actually focusing & having double the information to go look back on before exams & projects.
3. Read & take notes on the chapter you are about to learn the week before.
This one is a bit much but I find it very helpful. I will go into the textbooks & cut the pages into days. Then, the week before we actually start that chapter in class I will take notes & read all of the information so I don’t go into the lecture cluelessly. This also helps when you have to study for a test, you don’t have to dedicate reading 60000 pages & notes in the text book because you already did it. This will also allow you to ask more informed questions on things you don’t understand even after the professor taught them & you can use the notes to further elaborate the slides/lecture that the professor taught. You will have a better grasp on what they are teaching about because the textbook is more in depth.
4. Write down & refer to the course calendar constantly.
As soon as I get my syllabus & course calendars, I write down all of the due dates in my planner, then plan accordingly how to allot the right amount of time into my days/weeks to get the assignment done as well as I can & on time/early. This helps with procrastination & the stress of having a looming deadline. This will also help you plan your weeks accordingly & you will have as much time as you need to make sure you did the work to the best of your ability. I check my calendar every day, I am usually ahead in all of my classes, but thanks to this technique I have not been behind.
5. Make your own study guides.
There are plenty of resources out there that have pre-made study guides such as study code, Quilt..etc. But, I found that when I take the teachers guidelines for whats going to be on an exam & actually make my own study guide, I learn & understand them so much ore than if I was just reading a pre-made one off of the internet. I usually make my study guide the week before an exam is due & then study the guide I made every day leading up to the exam. All nighters might work for some people but I believe that they are a stressful practice that just leave you frazzled & tired from the night before.
6. Don’t try to do everything at once.
It can be really tempting to put things off because you think you have time, or do everything at once because you have a burst of motivation, but this will either result in you not retaining information very well because you did it all in one day & never looked back at it, or realizing that you have 10000 things due on the same day & not having enough time to put your best foot forward for all of them & stressing yourself out. My advice is to look at your deadlines & chunk everything up. Dedicate a specific amount of time every day to completing a certain amount of work for a class until the deadline. Repeat for all deadlines. This way you are not overwhelming yourself & you stay in a productive cycle.
7. Talk to Ta’s/Teachers.
Talking to your TA’s & professors is a great way to show face, show that your interested, & get on their good side. If a teacher knows you & has a positive reaction to you showing up & caring, they will be more likely to help you when/if you need it in their class.
8. Don’t burn yourself out.
Make time for fun & relaxing. Not everything has to be go, go, go all of the time. Time management is an important skill & self care is just as important. If you don’t make time for yourself & friends, you will burn out quickly. College is a time for fun & being young, enjoy it. There is a balance that is different for everyone between work & play. You need to find that balance to get the most out of these years.
All of that being said, I wish you all nothing but a successful, fun, amazing spring semester. You’ve got this.