Making the transition from school to college can be tough. With no teachers and parents nagging you to get work done, all your studying has to be self-motivated. When I was in my first year, the lack of structure meant I put off readings to the last minute and assignments seemed to creep up on me from nowhere. A few years on my attitude to studying is far more strategic. I don’t want to miss out on seeing my friends and having fun with societies to stay in and do my readings, so I’ve found that the best way to do everything and not fall behind is the plan out my work and remain organised. Here are some techniques I use to make sure I don’t fall behind:
When I write down my lecture timetable for each semester I also schedule in specific weekly time-slots to prepare for each module. Often these need to be altered depending on how difficult I find a class, but having a pre-set time each week where I focus on a specific topic ensures that I don’t leave things to the last minute or forget about readings.
Having a study space:
I do as much of my college work as I can in the library where it is easy to concentrate and there are plenty of resources available to consult. If I have to take work home I never work in my bedroom so that I have a sanctuary to escape to at the end of the day. By separating places where I study from places where I relax I’ve found it much easier not to get distracted and procrastinate.
Plan in advance:
Each semester’s weekly readings, classes and deadlines are written into my diary in advance, this way it is easy to look ahead and check how much longer I have to finish an essay or complete a reading. It’s way easier to organise your work at the start of term instead of halfway through.
Preparing for a lecture can be useful for understanding the points raised, but preparing for tutorials is vital. Tutorials and seminars give you the opportunity to clarify anything you don’t understand and discuss your opinions on a topic, and if you haven’t done the reading it’s kind of hard to do either.
Know your department:
Make sure you know who to contact in your department if you have a question or a request. If you need an extension, it’s better to already know who to contact so you don’t waste time speaking to the wrong person. Keeping in contact with your tutor can also be helpful so that they already know you if you need their advice or assistance.
Make use of the college support systems:
SLD (Student Learning and Development) can be a useful resource if you want to learn how to improve your learning techniques; whilst S2S and Student Counselling have great services and workshops if you are stressed and need someone to talk to.
Still have a life:
Doing well academically is one aspect to college, but it’s certainly not the only one. At university you have the chance to become friends with people you would never otherwise meet. You can take the opportunity to try out a new club or a sport you’ve never even heard of and discover a passion you never knew you had. As a student you combine the freedom and independence of being an adult, with the carefree attitude of not yet being ‘grown up’. I know that when I graduate I want the right grade to be on my degree, but I’m certain that my memories of college will extend far beyond the time I spent studying in the library.