So normally my aim is to fill you with the benefits of my wisdom and experience to encourage you in the more academic sides of uni – assignment writing, surviving classes, doing extracurricular stuff… you know, landing on your feet in the first semester. That’s why I created the blog, to help you.
This one does that too, but in a more, LETS MAKE IT THROUGH THIS LAST MONTH TOGETHER! sort of way 🙂
With each week I’ve been banking up a few tips more for myself, testing them out, feeling sure if they work for me they’ll work for you too. So as we hit the final four weeks of classes, where we are all (yes, even me) struggling to do all the work and get anything between an A and C depending on how much you love that class, and maybe because it’s Mother’s Day and I’m feeling motherly and generous, I thought I’d share a few of my tips on how to hit the finish line of week 13, or that last exam.
Four things everybody knows: eat well, drink lots of water, sleep enough, and exercise.
- Balanced diets include fruits/veg, grains, proteins with every meal. Try to have a rainbow of food every day and not too much brown/white or meat/dairy.
- If you feel like a snack, down a large glass of water instead. And one in the half hour before your meal. It will stop you eating too much and keep your body hydrated.
- What you may not realise it that a good diet and water will also stop you getting sick. And will help you concentrate. Both you need for study.
- Sleep and exercise allow your body to have the stretches and rests it needs to cope with sitting all day indoors at desks while you study. Become a fan of stretching. And regular bedtimes.
- *And the extra note – get your Vitamin D! 10 mins of summer sun and 20-30 mins of winter sun/being outdoors will do wonders to breathe in the fresh air and help you feel good and alert. This has to be without sunscreen to let your skin absorb the vitamins.
Save your education to your hard drive or external/thumb drive (My Mantra: Digitalise Everything!)
- Because you pay $$$$ for it.
- Because the internet in the library in the daytime is really slow and intermittent, so you can just pull it up on your laptop or tablet and still study.
- Saving readings, lectures and lecture notes are handy so that in other classes that cover the same topic, you can reduce your future-workload by clicking back to that reading or powerpoint and going ‘a-ha!’ Same goes for reviewing saved feedback when you are writing future assessments.
- Less of a paper-trail to carry with you and organise at home.
You can go as close to paperless as possible – good for the environment.
Comments and highlighting in Acrobat, Powerpoint and Word are seriously AWESOME.
- Reading online with a slightly dull screen is better than a bright screen. Tricks your brain into thinking its reading from a book. Hold Fn and press the dark sun or sun with a minus (-) in the F-row to get it right.
- Unless the reading has been scanned in crooked and the font makes you think it’s an old article, you should be able to highlight in Adobe Acrobat. In Word and Powerpoint, use highlighting in the basic text section.
- In older readings, just use the comment bubbles instead.
- Highlight what you think is the main argument sentence, the key examples in the text, key words, quotes – anything that is going to help you understand the article, and help you in your assignments.
- Comment bubbles are great to summarise what you’ve read so you can easily recall the information later. Or to note – “essay” or whatever you’d like to write.
- Very handy on Powerpoints for lecture notes. If they release before your lecture, just bring it up online and attach comment bubbles to the slide you want to write notes on. Saves time later rereading your lecture scrawl and on writing out the actual slide content either on Word or in your notebook during class. If they don’t release slides till later, consider writing p.1 and your note, or the heading and your note, during lecture, and then copying and pasting to comment bubbles later when the Powerpoint goes up on the LMS.
- Save As when you are done and replace the existing document if you have pre-saved. That way you can always have it there with your scribbles.
PERFECT for minimising time in-semester and to recall info close to exam time. It just makes study so much more efficient if you ask me!
- Based on my above tips you may notice I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. Yes siree.
- When it all gets too much, or if I haven’t got up to stretch or eat or drink and stare out the window, I dance it out.
- Have one or two songs that you just know you love to dance to.
- When your eyes are blurring or you could drop off (say, mid-reading), put on your music player –preferably earphones/ipod so it is RIGHT IN YOUR EARS – play your dance song LOUD.
- Dance with a lot of jumping, hopping from foot to foot, fist pumping, anything that moves your whole body. Give yourself that workout!
- Sing if you want, if it won’t scare your housemates or your mum.
- At the end of the song, have a drink of water and sit back down to the reading. Your body will be surging with energy and you’ll be ready to concentrate.
- You could also do any of the following to snap out of the daze: take a walk, hop in the shower, do 10 star jumps, drink water/have a snack, do a somersault. Movement is key. Getting out of the chair and away from the screen/book for a few minutes is all it takes. DON’T break longer or you’ll forget the reading and have to start again. Ick.
- Move on with your new week’s studies and go back to that lecture/reading later.
- If a few weeks pass by and what you haven’t caught up doesn’t look like it will contribute to your assignments, leave the catch up until exam time. If you have an exam.
- If you don’t have an exam, don’t worry about catching it up.
- This is so important to not stress yourself out when you get behind in classes. I have spent whole semesters worrying and writing to-do lists about when I may fit week 3’s class, and week 5’s readings, and so on, into my weeks, amongst all the classes and assignments and LIFE. And this semester, I haven’t worried.
- What you need to focus on, in any semester, is the assessments: they get you your grades.
- Lectures are summaries of readings so if you are pushed for time, do one or the other, and take a look at the lecture notes to make sure it all makes sense. Use the tutorials to ascertain if you have half a clue. If you do, you are probably going better than you think. If you don’t, then you need to seriously make time to catch up.
- Pay attention most to the lectures and readings that will contribute to your assessments. At this point, forget the rest.
- Look at what’s left of semester.
- Write out the due dates and word counts of your assessments remaining.
- Don’t be afraid to knock over a couple of short ones first as they are QUICK and then focus better on your essays. Try to do quick tasks in a 3-5hour timeslot, ie weekly blogs, critical reviews or tutorial questions.
- Plan out your time so you can start researching your final essays now, get the books from the library, and sketch out skeleton structures asap.
- Give yourself deadlines for achieving certain tasks of the assessments, rather than just the assessments themselves. Like, find and read 3 key readings by 20th May; write first draft by (enter week before it’s due).
- When you are almost done with a task, move on to something else, take a break, leave it a day or an hour, but get away from it so you can return with a fresh eye and figure out how to improve.
If anything take heart in knowing that the way you are feeling now, is how you will feel in third year, but slightly more used to the routines, feelings, excess work and frantic efforts to keep up. By then you will know yourself better, and the subjects you study too, with topics and issues overlapping in different classes. You will be more confident that you can and do survive week after week.
My parents used to give me one tip over and over that I use now when it comes to uni, and I try not to be hard on myself:
DO YOUR BEST
As long as you are doing everything you can, don’t beat yourself up. Uni is a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes endurance to work through each semester, and semester after semester. That’s why we need such long breaks in summer and winter. Listen to people’s advice, do what you can to personalise them and make it work for you, and you will succeed.
Rock on people!
And here’s my dance song, a favourite from my years in Europe that gets me happy and flying. Every. Single. Time.