I’m alive! The past few weeks have been so crazy with midterms, but now that I’m on my (last) spring break I’ve had more time to breathe and think.
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I never expected the last four years to pass me by so quickly, but here we are!
As I near my graduation in May (which is incredibly scary) I can’t help but keep thinking back to my first couple of semesters here and how much I’ve changed and the things that I wish I’d known.
1. The First Semester is Hard(and that’s OK)
My first semester was the hardest one I have faced so far. I was so stressed that I hardly slept and I had no idea how to study. Although I had done tons of research on how to take great notes and effectively study for different subjects, I wasn’t taking into account what worked best for me. I think it takes time to adjust and figure out how you learn best.
I also struggled being away from home and adjusting apartment life (laundry, groceries, etc). I couldn’t figure out how to keep my clothes and apartment clean, eat, and study. Sometimes I caught myself eating dinner at 10 P.M.
Looking back, I didn’t even realize how overwhelmed I was, but the next few semesters became so much easier. It takes time to get into a routine and learn how to balance everything. It’s not abnormal to feel overwhelmed your first semester. You will slowly learn the things that work for you and those that don’t. My point is: stick with it and things will definitely get better.
2. Stay Organized (But Don’t Make it Complicated)
When I first started I had BIG plans about how organized I was going to keep my studying and assignments. I bought a planner, pens, a calendar, and an accordion folder. I would write my assignments in my planner and on my dry-erase calendar, and when assignments were handed back I separated them and stored them in my folder (for what reason, I don’t know). I also took hours meticulously copying my in-class notes in my free time in an attempt to learn them and kept those in a separate folder too.
Of course, this was so convoluted I couldn’t keep up with it. I stopped writing in my planner and at the height of my panic I walked into my biology class and had forgotten we had a test.
Instead, now during the first week of class I take my syllabus and write my assignments in my planner, and every week I make a list of what needs to be finished each day. I take notes in a five-star notebook and generally store graded assignments in the little pockets. My organization system is simple and keeps me on track.
As I said before, you will learn the things that work for you and those that don’t. Overcomplicated planning took up too much of my time my first semester, as well as procrastinating those assignments. Once I cut that from my life, I found I was no longer making dinner at 10 ;).
3. Get Up Earlier
This admittedly may not be for everyone, but I’ve noticed that the number one thing that starts my day off on a bad foot is rushing in the morning to get ready and get to class. It seems like when I’m in a hurry everything goes wrong: my car windows are frosted, I can’t find my shoes, one eyebrow is bigger than the other, etc. You know what I mean.
These situations usually lead to a meltdown which in turn sets a bad vibe for the entire day. So I have been getting up earlier so I have time to enjoy my coffee, work on some homework if I want to, and leave plenty of time to deal with frosted windows or dogs that need to go out 5 times before I leave.
This really takes the stress out of my mornings because I know I have plenty of time to get ready and look decent, eat my breakfast, and deal with any of the mishaps that come my way.
4. Chip Away at Assignments
When I say this I mean do a little work at a time, instead of waiting until the night before and taking on a huge assignment in a few hours. This is something I really just learned during the past few semesters.
For example, I regularly have history reading quizzes due at the end of every week that cover around 50 pages. Being an avid reader I used to think “50 pages is nothing”. However, I quickly learned it can take hours to actually read and absorb dense material.
Instead of waiting until the day the quiz is due and reading all 50 pages and then doing the assignment, I look ahead and split that reading up over 5 days, reading only 10 pages a day.
I also learned that a good strategy to slowly “chip away” at assignments is to work on them when you have a free moment in the day. For instance, I have an hour between my classes and instead of getting on my phone like I used to I use this time to work on homework so I won’t have to do it later when I’m at home.
Any time you have even 15 minutes between classes to spare is a great time to read a few pages or write a paragraph because that’s less time you will have to make for it at home.
The spring is such an exciting time with high school and college graduations looming. A new page is beginning for many of us! I wish all of you that are going to begin your journey in college the best of luck! Persevere and try to enjoy it, the next four years will go by faster than you can possibly imagine.
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Are any of your graduating this spring or have any tips for incoming freshman? Drop a comment below!