It's hard to believe it's that time already, but considering August is right around the corner... I decided to start my Back to School series on YouTube! There's a playlist of videos from last year that I'll be adding to right here. And to celebrate (or help ease the pain of) back to school time, I have a few giveaways planned for you! The first one is open now!
I decided to focus on Top 10 lists this year and the first one consists of a few study tips I've picked up over the years. I can't lie, I'm not great at studying, but these are just things that have helped me along my journey. Let me know what other back to school tips you'd like me to film for you and also make sure to tell me any study tips I may have left out!
1. 'Due' Does Not Equal 'Do'
This is probably the single most important advice I could give you, to be honest. I am a horrible procrastinator -- like to the point of writing research papers two hours before they're due. It's awful and it stresses me out but I just can't stop. When I do find myself working ahead and doing work way before the due date, I find that I have so much more free time and I usually end up getting better grades. Google Calendar has really helped me schedule my time as you can easily rearrange events, color code them, and sync your calendar to your smartphone. I still use a paper planner but I find Google Calendar a lot easier to keep updated.
2. Write Everything Down
I'm old school. I get that not everyone is, but I think this is one of the reasons I (shhh) never read my textbooks. I don't need to. 90% of the time if you go to lecture and take good notes, the professor will cover everything in the assigned readings. There's also science that says writing helps you memorize things much better. On top of that, taking notes keeps my hands busy so I'm not tempted to text, talk to my neighbor, or browse on my Chromebook.
3. Talk to Your Professors
Professors are semi-scary people, but they really don't have to be. They get paid to help you, whether they like it or not, and it's in your best interests to take advantage of that. Not only does talking to your professors make your assignments easier, it will probably help your grade in the long run. Looking back, I've always gotten the best grades in classes taught by instructors I actually talked to. Not to say you should be a teacher's pet, but think about it: if you were doing grades and remembered a student did ask questions, did treat you politely, and did participate in class, you'd give them a break too, right?
4. Find a Study Buddy
Even an introvert like myself does better in classes where I've found a study buddy. Whether you do homework off campus together or just sit next to each other in lecture, making friends in your class (and especially in your major) really helps. Short term, they can help make your life more bearable and long term, they may even help you with a job. If you have a major like mine (film, video, and media studies) where a large percentage of us will probably end up in the same cities (New York, LA, or Chicago), I'm willing to bet I'll run into a few former classmates somewhere down the line. Who knows how we may help each other out?
5. Find a Good Place to Study
Find what works for you. Everyone learns differently, and I am one of those people who just cannot focus in a noisy environment. Coffitivity is an app I like to use in my office to help me focus. It simulates a coffee shop experience, which is the one type of noise that really helps me concentrate. Explore your campus and city to find places that inspire you. Or, find a place in your home that's warm, inviting, and peaceful.
6. Don't Work Too Much
I've struggled with this all through college, but it's really important to remember why you're in school to begin with. Don't care too much about a job that isn't your future. I've sacrificed so much in the past for dead-end jobs, from missing class to cover shifts to simply taking on too much for my brain to handle. I'm addicted to things, I think that's my major flaw (I'm sure you've realized this is you're a long time reader) and college is not the time to be materialistic. You're supposed to be poor in college, that's why the stereotype exists! Now I'm not suggesting you starve or go without basic necessities, but if you don't have to work full-time, don't. The bit of extra cash is not worth a panic attack or failing a class because you didn't have time to study.
7. Make Studying Fun
This goes along with finding a study buddy, but finding things that make studying fun is so important. Maybe it's that pricey coffee drink you only get when you study for finals, or a shopping trip once you've completed a hard assignment. Reward yourself for your hard work, and try to take away some of the scariness of cracking open the books. I make color coded flash cards sometimes, which can actually be a semi-fun game when practiced with a friend. If you're musically inclined, make up songs to help memorize things. Whatever you do, don't make studying a chore, and if it has to be a chore - reward yourself for it.
8. Don't Cram
I've done this so many times because of my procrastination. I've literally waited until a week before finals to start an entire semester's worth of reading and I'm pretty sure I stayed up for two days doing it. Somehow I passed the class, but many people don't. Science says that the brain can only take in small bits of information at a time, so cramming loses its purpose after awhile. I try to study for an hour or so and then take a short break. In that time I'll eat, run out for a coffee, or watch a short YouTube video -- whatever helps you recharge. Breaking up the day is really helpful for grades, and it will also make you feel like your day wasn't a snoozefest.
9. Eat Healthy Food
Eating a balanced diet in college is hard considering you're trying to save money and time, but it really helps with concentration and overall health. And when you're healthy, you're not missing as much class, it's easier for you to study, and you're in a better mood. I'm no chef and I'm also on a budget, but I manage to eat pretty healthy by eating fruit every morning and adding beans or tofu to simple meals to give them substance. Things like boxed pastas, processed frozen foods, and junk food will not do you any favors, even if they are cheap and easy to prepare.
10. Don't Take on too Much
I have friends that take 6-7 classes every semester and then wonder why their GPA is so low. Or, they'll end up dropping them which costs them more money in the long run. I do best with 4-5 classes, but only you know how much you can really take on. Try to do well in the classes you have, and then consider taking on a larger load. Just know that college is not a race, but more of a marathon. Taking on more classes usually won't get you done any quicker, and will instead just put you further in debt and waste your time.