college advice from someone who’s been on both sides of it
So I’m finishing up my Ph.D. and
preparing to depart for the real world (no, just kidding, I’m going
to be in school forever, only in a different capacity) and I thought I’d
put together a list of some college tips to share with you all. I graduated with
my B.A. in 2012, magna cum laude,
with 2 majors, 1 honours thesis, 2 on-campus jobs, and 3 music things. Since then, I’ve gone to grad school and also
taught six semesters of first-year seminars. Now I’m going on the job
market for teaching positions. All of this means that I’ve seen both
sides of the college experience, as a student and as an instructor. There are a lot of great & useful college advice posts going around studyblr this time of here, and I wanted to add my own. I hope it’s useful. So
here we go, with a “read more” because it’s long (sorry if you’re on mobile):
your classrooms ahead of time (profs’ offices too)
out how long it will take you to walk between places
out where your best seat will be & claim it
to the people next to you, learn their names
notes in class
advantage of extra credit
your best not to fall asleep in class (and if you do fall asleep, apologise to the
your glasses if you need them, don’t be stubborn about it
out the library, wander in the stacks, talk to the librarians
out how & where to print
used books/textbooks, or rent them, but be careful with ebooks (some
profs don’t allow them)
breaks into your class schedule, or block everything together, whichever works best for you
work out the pros &
cons of 8am classes and/or night classes
ahead – have a planner, put things in it, do them
deadlines are a thing (write down earlier deadlines, trick yourself into meeting them, bask in satisfaction)
grades won’t be what they were in high school
keep in mind GPA values: a 3.5 will see you graduating with honours
nice to the departmental administrative staff, thank them for helping
you (even with small things)
hours versus emailing profs: both will get your questions answered (probably) but if you can go and talk in person, do it
& TAs are people too, they have lives, they have bad days
something comes up, talk to your prof, be honest but don’t overshare, just show them you’re trying
Me: “I’m watching YouTube videos and reading blog posts on different study, reading, and note-taking techniques, and then comparing them to see which one works best for me so when I study I learn the material the best and can read the fastest.”
Person: “Ummm… that’s great. But it sounds like a lot of research. Don’t you need to read the text and study for your current class you’re in?”
Me: “Yeah, I’m three days behind on my reading and assignments. But I’m learning how to learn.”
Back to School: How to Get an A*/8 or 9 in an English Lit Essay!
Happy September, everyone!
As we all get our gears in motion to start a new year, I thought I would share my top tips for scoring the highest marks in English Literature essays.
(P.S. Lots of these tips are applicable to other subjects too)
1. Don’t write about the character as if they are real
Unfortunately, this is a common error in English Lit essays. It is absolutely imperative to remember that a character is not a person, but is a construct of the writer in order to present an idea or theme. No matter the question, you should be linking your answer back to the writer’s ideas and theme of the text, even if it doesn’t seem obvious what the theme is on the first inspection of the question. Using the author’s name frequently in your essay will demonstrate that you recognise the character is not a real person - ‘Shakespeare portrays Macbeth as a tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle as…’
2. Don’t analyse the plot
Avoid analysing the plot or when things happen in the text. Don’t write ‘When X happens it makes us think Y’. Instead:
Analyse the writer’s use of language, structure and form to create meaning
Do a close language analysis of specific words/phrases, including a sound analysis (plosives, assonance, etc.)
Do a structural analysis of what happens when and why that’s important (Freytag’s pyramid)
Do an analysis of form (stage directions, dramatic monologue, etc.)
3. Keep your answer relevant throughout
You need to be explicitly answering the question - not going off on a tangent nor trying to change the question to suit an answer that you want to write. One way of avoiding this is by starting each paragraph with a topic sentence, summarising what that paragraph is going to be about and how it answers the question. Another method is simply by rewording the question into your answer at the start and end of every paragraph. At least. For greater impact, include synonyms of the word, which can also help with the readability of your answer.
4. Avoid PEE/PEEL/etc. where you can
Thousands of students are taught the same, basic Point-Evidence-Explain (or variant) analytical paragraph structure. If you want to stand out, show academic strength, and achieve the highest marks then you must break free from the chains of PEE! (This also applies for your introduction format. ‘In this essay, I will argue…’ gets pretty dull after reading it 100 times)
For my students, I will be teaching them to write What-How-Why paragraphs:
WHAT has the writer done?
HOW have they done it?
WHY have they done it/is it effective?
This way, your focus is always on why the writer has chosen to use that specific language/structure/form, but it allows you to be creative in crafting your response. Being able to discuss the ‘why’ of literature is the key to unlocking the highest grades. Reading through examiners’ reports this summer has made one thing clear - it is not enough to merely spot linguistic devices or structural features. You must explain why the writer has chosen them and why that is an effective choice (or not).
5. Avoid sweeping statements about context
The main advice here is to only include comments about the context of the text if it adds to the analytical point that you are making. They should not be a bolt-on sentence, but they should enhance your answer.
Further, sweeping claims like ‘All Jacobean women were oppressed by society’ is far too vague. On the other hand, a comment like ‘Lady Macbeth is a disturbing example of womanhood because she denies her gender at a time where the role of a woman was clear-cut, even patriarchal, in Jacobean society’ suggests that you have a greater understanding of how context can influence the writer’s choices.
6. A plan is your best friend
Always, always make time to plan your answer. A method I recommend is, first, circling the key words in the question (character/theme, what you are asked to do, where in the text you are asked to look, etc.). Secondly, write all of your ideas down onto the page, highlighting parts from the extract if you have that in front of you. Finally, select a judicious number of points that you are going to talk about (quality not quantity here) and number the order in which you are going to make them.
If you are writing a comparative essay, each paragraph must start and end with a comparative point about whatever it is you are comparing (characters/themes/etc.) I suggest the following format:
‘X is presented in both text A and text B. However, in A the author uses device 1 and 2 to demonstrate X. On the other hand, in B, the author demonstrates X via use of device 2 and 3.’ Then write one paragraph for each text. Repeat this again for another similarity. And again for a third - if you think that is appropriate.
My mind has been all over the place these past few days because I’ve got 3 assignments due on Monday, but setting aside a little bit of time to keep my desk tidy seems to work wonders. (Even if it’s just another form of procrastination) ✨
back to school season has started, yay! As a ‘thank you’ to all 1000 people who followed me I made this printables bundle with everything you may need during your school year. I’m on uni so this is more of a ‘back to uni’ thingy, but I bet hs students will make a great use of it too! Anyway, thank you for following me and here goes!
Click one of the links below to download a PDF file:
Things People Don’t Realize They Need at College/University
Hello class of 2021!
I know a lot of you are probably in your beginning stages of shopping for college, as a sophomore who is about to start her second year of dorm life (This time as a RA!) I thought I would throw together a list of things that people don’t realize that they need while they’re away from home.
Air Freshener, chances are your dorm has been closed up since the last person left it in the spring, opening a window and spraying some febreze works wonders for a stuffy room
Clorox Wipes, it never hurts to wipe down door handles and flat surfaces, especially during cold and flu season.
409/Comet Spray, Guys seriously. Clean your shower tiles.
Dust Ruffle, seriously. Your room WILL collect dust, I know its easy to ignore. But just set aside 1 day a month to dust all the furniture in your dorm room
Laundry Scent Boosters (Like Downy Unstoppables) The washers and dryers are used by hundreds of different people, chances are they may have a funky smell to them, scent boosters are a great way to make sure your laundry comes out fresh, no matter how old the washing machines are
Pepper Spray, whether you’re living on an urban or rural campus, pepper spray is a great (and legal) way to protect yourself. Remember, knives are NOT allowed on any college campus. I would recommend a pepper spray with UV dye, it reflects light and makes it easier for the attacker to get caught by the police
Flashlight, no, not just the one on your phone! You may never know when the power will go out in your dorm room.
Epsom Salts, if your dorm room has a bath, Epsom salts are an awesome (and cheap!) way to relax. If your dorm only has a shower, put a few drops of lavender, melaluca, or lemongrass essential oil on the tiles before you start your shower.
First-aid-kit, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just a pack of band-aids, neosporin, some gauze, and a pair of tweezers
Emergency kit, hopefully you’ll never have to use this, but last year I was trapped in my college town after a hurricane caused more damage than originally expected. A reflective blanket (you can get these at sports stores for $10), glow sticks, an extra flashlight, and a highway map are great things to start you out.
Cash, Always have at least $10 in cash wherever you go. Chances are you’ll find an adorable bakery off campus that only takes cash, or you’ll need to tip a waitress.
Well there you go guys! I hope this post gave you some information about some items you may not have on your “Back to school” list. Feel free to message me anytime about dorm life, move-in day, relationship drama, or any pestering questions you have about college life. Have a great day! :-)
My girlfriend found this about 6 weeks ago, unfortunately right AFTER her time of the month passed. So when it came again, I dug this out of my likes and asked her to test it out. She shared it with a couple of friends, and the feedback from all three was exactly the same.
“This really works. It’s not my favorite method, and it is hard to beat the effectiveness of drugs or a heating pad, but it really comes in handy when like you’re in the middle of class, or you’re just in a situation where there’s nothing you can do. Then it’s a really good time to use the pressure point method.”
Hoe Tips: Looking Your Best When You Have Zero Time
Alright y'all, I know you guys have started school and you probably have zero free time to really beat your face or look groomed without sacrificing sleep or classtime, so I’m droppin some quick tips.
1. Sleep>everything. Do not get less than 6 hours of sleep each night (really, no less than 8, but as a fulltime college student in a healthcare major I know thats not always realistic). Your physical health is more important than your grades, more important than doing your makeup in the morning, etc. Span out your studying gradually throughout the week so you aren’t cramming, and if you didn’t get enough sleep, just don’t do your makeup the next morning. I promise you, no one will really care whether or not you’re wearing makeup.
2. Have a 5 minute routine down pat if you still wanna beat your face. Mine is as follows: moisturizer/primer, tinted brow mascara/brow pencil, tinted BB cream, powder, blush and highlight, mascara, sheer lip gloss, setting spray. Easy peasy.
3. Lay out your outfits on your bed/dresser the night before. Having an ensemble already available to you saves a shit ton of time in the morning.
4. Have your lunch packed and your bag ready the night before.
5. Do some of your skincare routine in the shower. Wash and exfoliate while waiting for your shampoo to settle into your hair, leave on a face mask while shaving your legs, etc.
6. Apply coconut oil/castor oil to your lashes and brows before you go to bed every night for long, voluminous lashes and bold, groomed brows.
7. Keep a chapstick/lip balm on you at all times to ensure those babies are soft 24/7.
8. Never skip moisturizer. I like to use a Clean and Clear moisturizer with salicylic acid in it; it hydrates my skin and helps fight acne all in one.
9. Always have a hair tie on you in case of a bad hair day.
10. The less you wear makeup, the better your face starts to look without it. I used to wear makeup religiously (and I still love wearing it), but I found that sleep and making it to class/work on time every day is way more important than a beat face. Plus my skin benefits from having time to breathe. I promise y'all are gorgeous with AND without makeup, and your skin will thank you for having a day off.
11. Keep a small spray bottle of perfume in your car/bag.
12. Paint your nails/toes while studying. Reading over your notes while waiting for your nails to dry can make good use of some time.
13. Leave one day a week where you don’t do any school work, for beauty and personal care. Everyone needs a break, and that can be your self care day.
💖Thats all for now, good luck this semester hoes, stay beautiful💖
Hey guys,I’m so sorry that I’ve been gone for that long but I wasn’t feeling myself lately (mentally and physically) so I decided to take a break,but now I’m back.So today’s post is about things you have to do in order to be ready for the upcoming school year.Let’s begin shall we👇🏻👇🏻??
• Buy your school supplies early: I know that this sounds so basic but having your stationary all ready and prepared and not waiting to buy them one week (or even day) before school starts will actually help you so much.It will inspire and motivate you for the next year making you think about school and all the things that you will need throughout the day.
• Organize your room,desk or generally your study corner: Okay so pay attention to this one cause it’s actually the key to everything (for me at least).In order to keep your mind focused on school,assignments and tests you must have a clean,quite and relaxing place to study.I know that this isn’t for all people but when it comes to children like me who can’t focus if there’s even a paper clip on the floor then it will be a life changing thing to do before school starts, BUT!! be careful and don’t overdo it, keep things that you will only need and don’t put stuff that are not useful cause it will most likely leave you without space to write.
• Pick your outfits days before: Look we’ve all been into this situation when you panic and freak out cause you have nothing to wear for a very special occasion, so picking your outfits early not only for the first week of school but for the whole year in general will help you so much I PROMISE.Because when you’re not in the mood to pick a cute outfit at 6:30am (Don’t worry I got you) it will come so handy if you just have it ready on your hooker waiting for you.Also this can may help you add a thing or two to your shopping list that you really need for back to school like umm a pair of basic skinny jeans or reaped mom jeans EVERYTHING you need will just come out way easier if you just sit down and think about it.
• Get crystal clear about this year’s goals: So in order to succeed anything in life you have to attract it,so if you just start thinking about the things that you would like to accomplish this year and be serious about them (like lose 3 pounds or read 5 books) you will actually make them happen a lot easier.
• Visualize your everyday routine: Here there isn’t much to explain.Its completely up to you.Imagine how your everyday life will be by the time school starts and try make it as productive and joyful as possible
(ex. Wake up around 6:00 am,make your bed,wash your face,eat breakfast,brush your teeth,mediate,read a little bit of your book and leave for school).