29.9.16 A rainy 9am lecture started my day today! I don’t know how I managed to get up, eat breakfast, make lunch, get dressed and get to my lecture in under an hour but I did! I went to the library between a couple of my lectures today to get stuck into some reading - I’ve got an essay about glacier cover to do already and we haven’t even had a physical geog lecture yet. I’ve put a load into the washing machine and I’m about to do some post lecture reading. Wish me luck! Might do a pub crawl later not sure! Xxxxx emily
Going to spend the entire afternoon in the library preparing for classes and reading my two textbooks. Did all my chores and planning during the morning, now off to fetch my new glasses and then it’s time to find a cozy spot in the library!
Ps: I have been practicing piano lately, something that I haven’t done for the past four years and it feels soooo amazing to play again!
8 AM classes really aren't that bad:
It may take some willpower (and coffee) to get there, but really, 8AMs aren't that bad. Get a decent amount of sleep the night before and you will be okay. If I can get myself and my 4 year old out of bed, get ready, drop her off at preschool and arrive on time for an 8am, you can too!
Taking classes that meet once a week for long blocks:
If your learning style is such that sitting in a long lecture once a week is something you can handle, then these are the best classes to take. Personally, I have done 3 semesters of these and they have been my favorite and the ones I have gotten the best grades in.
Scheduling back-to-back class periods:
These can be beneficial if you're the type of person that just likes to get everything out of the way at once. However, the downside is that you will not have time to eat between classes, and you may have to grab something and eat during lecture. If the buildings for your classes are far apart, this may not even be an option. Having breaks between classes is important to allow yourself mental relaxation and to eat, or catch up on work.
Don't be afraid to change your major:
I've changed my major a lot, like maybe 8-10 times. The downside is that I am graduating a year late, but I took A LOT of fascinating classes and became a much better rounded student. Colleges know that student change their minds. If you switch majors 2-3 times, you won't end up behind. I'm a special case.
Take long-hand notes:
You may feel strange taking long-hand notes while everyone else is typing away at their MacBooks, but long-hand notes are MUCH more beneficial as far as long-term memory goes, and you don't run the risk of being distracted by Facebook.
Dress appropriately for class:
The college stereotype of everyone attending class in their pajamas isn't true. At least make the effort to throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Your professors will notice if you look like a slacker in class, and dressing nicely (or at least not in your pajamas) shows them that you value your education and respect their lectures. People wear anything from casual clothes to ties to class, and everything inbetween. Don't be afraid you'll be overdressed, being underdressed is much worse (in my opinion).
Cultivate relationships with professors:
ATTEND OFFICE HOURS. Close relationships with professors are massively helpful! Professors are much more willing to write letters of recommendation, look over rough drafts, or help you out via email at 10pm for students that they know than ones that they don't. Additionally, professors can be some of the most interesting people you will ever meet.
Along the same lines as above, attending class is very important. You (or your parents) are paying for you to be there. You should try to get the most out of that by attending lectures that you have signed up for. Additionally, when it comes finals time and you need to boost your grade, no professor is going to help you if you haven't attended their lectures.
Invest in a water bottle:
Nothing is worse than sitting in a lecture dying of thirst.
Invest in a messenger bag, tote bag, or backpack:
You don't have a locker in college and chances are your dorm will be far away from your classes. Make sure you have something to carry anything you'll need, from books, to pens and pencils, to a laptop, or even snacks like granola bars.
Do it. Your professor knows more than you, that's why they are at the front of the room. Listen to them, and write down what they say. Then study it. This is how you learn.
Utilize the library:
Other than during finals week, the library is pretty much a guaranteed quiet place to study. Additionally, college libraries have databases for research papers, printing services, and a whole lot more for students.
Eat alone if you want/have to:
No one will judge you. I promise.
Annotate your books:
Especially if you are an English/literature major! It is a lot easier to simply take all of your notes in the novel than to copy down page numbers and quotes into a notebook. Textbooks (like science ones) can be annotated too!
Don't let anyone shame you about your major:
Each major is difficult in its own way. Don't let anyone make you feel like you're taking an "easy" major or that they are more intelligent than you because they are in a "hard" major. STEM majors are not better than Liberal Arts majors, and Liberal Arts majors are not better than STEM majors. Ignore anyone who says otherwise. Ignore anyone who says your major is pointless. This does not only apply to fellow students, but family, friends, and the world in general.
Prepare for advising periods:
Class offerings are usually posted before registration is open. Take an hour to become familiar with the requirements of your department and the individual college it is in (if applicable), as well as University/institutional requirements (IE at UMass, my "college" is the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, while my department is Anthropology. The university itself, SBS, and Anthro all have different specific requirements I must meet to graduate) and make a list of classes you would like to take that satisfy these requirements. Advisors will appreciate it.
Take advantage of campus resources:
Many colleges and universities have numerous extremely helpful resources, such as employment services which will help with resumes, or counselors for when you're having a hard time. Use these. They are there for you.
Keep yourself organized:
Notebooks, highlighters, a planner, flashcards, an expandable file, binders, folders, literally whatever you need to keep track of all your papers, assignments, due dates, and what you need to help you study is important for you to have. If you don't know what helps you study or what keeps you organized, try some different systems or do some research.
Keep your syllabi:
Every semester I buy a different notebook for each class I am taking, and I always keep my syllabus folded in half in the back of each notebook. It has saved my ass numerous times.
Check your email or the course website before class:
Nothing sucks more than being the only kid who didn't know class was cancelled, especially if you're a commuter and you drove in/took the bus to a class that isn't happening.
Give yourself plenty of time:
Whether its getting to class, doing homework, or writing a paper, make sure you give yourself enough time. This is especially important for commuters. I can promise you that you will need more time to drive to class than you think. I live less than 40 minutes away from UMass and I still leave 75-90 minutes before class starts.
Understand your learning style:
Do flashcards work best? What about mindmaps? Answering questions at the end of the chapter? Understand what allows things to sink into your mind the best, and utilize that method of learning.
Honestly, you can get by with SparkNotes:
I was an English major. We had to read, a lot and I didn't always read the novels. I used SparkNotes and skimmed chapters. While I wouldn't recommend relying on this entirely to graduate, it can help in a pinch.
I know I just told you to go, and I do mean that. But sometimes you need to skip class and be lazy or frivolous, and that's fine. Don't make it a habit. I usually allow myself 1-2 "mental health" days per semester. HOWEVER you should be VERY clear on the absence policy of your professors. Some don't take attendance, and others will kick you out if you miss 3 classes. It's always in the syllabus.
It's okay to withdraw from a class:
Getting a W is better than getting an F. If a class is too much for you, then it's best to step out of it. Most professors will understand, and most grad schools and jobs will too.
Be kind to yourself:
It's easy to only value yourself through school, as in what grade you got on a test, or how your GPA stacks up against others but we are all human and sometimes we fuck up and sometimes we do poorly and thats alright. Learn from it and move on.
Take care of yourself:
!!!!! This is very important. Eat as well as you can/enough, sleep enough, don't become addicted to or dependent on drugs/alcohol, exercise (even if its just walking to class), take showers, etc. Sometimes taking care of yourself takes a back seat to taking care of your grades OR to having too much fun, and neither is a good strategy. Yes, college is a time to assert your independence and have fun and party, but if you do too much it will begin to affect your grades and your health.
Try to get internships or research assistantships/independent studies:
These will look great on your resume and a lot of them are quite interesting/enjoyable. It shows initiative, drive, and motivation! Professors usually have independent studies and career/employment services (if your campus has that) can help with internship placement.
These are basic things that I have learned during my college career. I'm sure I could come up with more, but I hope this is helpful!