A year of college has taught me so much about studying, homework, essay-writing, and time management that I just had to write a post on it. I have much more to learn, but here are some tips that I wish I knew when I started college!
1. When it comes to essays, don’t wait until the last minute. I need to start essays as soon as they’re assigned or else I get panicky and scared because writing long papers is hard. The hardest part of writing a paper is starting it, and once I have a rough draft I can happily edit it, make other people edit it, and go over it with my TA before turning it in. The TA is the one who will likely grade your essay anyway, so ask if you can meet with him or her a few days before the due date and get feedback on your work. In my experience, TA’s have always been happy to meet with students outside of class. Or maybe it’s just me and my pleasant demeanor. 😉
2. On the other hand, don’t start studying for tests too early. Last year I would start studying a week before each exam, and I’d end up getting so stressed and tired of reviewing that I would freak out for no logical reason. Don’t do that. Start studying 3-5 days before the exam depending on how much material will be covered. Start with a short study session, then do a bit more each night leading up to the test.
3. Find a quiet space. I overestimate my ability to stay focused in my bedroom or a coffee shop, so the library is the best place for me. College libraries are notoriously huge, so my best advice to you when picking a place to study is to literally get yourself lost. Go up and down elevators, climb stairs, go through hallways, and just find a place where nobody else is. There is a particular area in the library where it’s so quiet, I feel like someone turned the volume of my life to “OFF”. It’s a little strange at first, but I can write a paper there faster than anywhere else, so I work with it. Make sure your study spot has an electrical outlet if you plan to use your laptop or charge your phone; I always forget to do this!
4. Get comfy. If I know I’m in for a marathon study session, I dress accordingly. AKA yoga pants. Never under-estimate the power of a good pair of yoga pants. When you’re ready to stop studying and re-enter the real world, you won’t look like you’ve been asleep all day. I have also been known to wear fuzzy chenille socks and Ugg slippers to the library. Because desperate times call for desperate measures.
5. Keep refreshments on hand. The library I go to doesn’t allow food and drinks. I think this is because the library is home to some really old books. I once checked a book out that hadn’t been checked out since 1963, but that’s a different story for a different time. The key is that you should already be in a part of the library that nobody goes to, so it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be caught with snacks. I always keep a reusable water bottle on my desk and a few Crystal Light packets in my purse because they make me happy. I also bring snacks. Nuts or dry cereal are both good because you can stealthily eat them without anyone catching you. Don’t forget to bring quarters for the vending machine so you can get your caffeine fix.
6. Make a playlist. Music not only helps me block out other sounds around me, but it also keeps me on-track and motivated. I like a mix of quiet, slow songs and energizing, dance-y songs. My ideal study playlist has both classical music and 90’s pop.
7. If you don’t need WiFi, turn it off. This is pretty easy to do on most computers (my laptop has a switch on the front) and it will prevent you from checking Facebook, Twitter, and your email every few minutes. I usually find that the prospect of going through the minimal effort to switch my WiFi back on is actually less appealing than just skipping Facebook for a while. Which is a little pathetic, but who cares? Remember that if something really important happens, someone will most likely call or text you about it.
8. Decide whether you need your phone with you. I like to have my phone within a 5 foot radius of my body at all times. When I’m studying, I set it to “silent” so that I don’t bother anyone else or embarrass myself with a tacky ringtone. I keep it in my backpack by my feet, so I can see the screen light up in the corner of my eye and decide whether the call/text is important enough to stop for. Because in all honesty, some things are more important than homework.
Is there anything I missed?