School isn’t easy. Going back to school after a break is definitely not easy, but I chose to give myself the gift of a career and specialty. I’m done 4 out of 5 finals of my first semester of my first year of university and I thought I’d share with you (while I have a little breather) what lessons I’ve learned during this first semester and what I’ll do differently during my second and for the rest of my studies.
1. “I don’t feel like it” and “But the prof gives us the slides anyway” aren’t valid reasons to miss out on a class. I’ve unfortunately learned this the hard way. Anything you miss can and [most likely] will be on your tests and papers. Your prof may also emphasize on a subject and give you additional information and you’ll never know, because you weren’t there.
2. Make a friend in every class. This way you can both exchange notes and information and form a study group to ensure that you understood all the correct information. It’s also good if there is a day where you absolutely need to miss class, this way you won’t miss everything that was taught.
3. Skimming readings or not doing them at all aren’t an option. There’s a reason why your profs give them to you. It’s to further your understanding of the subject and give you examples.
4. If you can, avoid taking 3 classes a day. Depending on what your schedule allows you to do and the type of classes you’re taking, try avoiding more than 2 classes a day. Your mind can only focus so much and you need to let all the information settle before you can move on to something else. This may not be the case for everyone, but this one is definitely a lesson learned for me. No more headache Mondays.
5. Invest in a good recording device. I learned this lesson a bit too late during my semester. Not every prof will let you record them, but make sure to ask ahead of time. It will be a life saver when you’re reviewing your notes and you can confirm what was actually said. I started recording my classes after my midterms on my smart phone. Can you guess what I asked Santa for Christmas?
6. Come prepared for study groups. It’s really unfair for your classmates to give you all the information when you’ve skipped a class and have no clue what they’re talking about. You want to make sure that you have information prepped so you can participate and join in the conversations. – For the record I actually cancelled on one of my study groups because I didn’t feel prepared enough to participate with them. The second time around, I was really thankful that I had done so.
7. Sit where you can see, but won’t get distracted. I sat at almost every angle of my classes. Turns out I like aisle seats and the 2nd to 4th row from the bottom. I can see and hear everything clearly (it’s also great for the classes I can record) and I don’t get distracted by those who are on their laptops and not paying attention to the class. The top row taught me that.
8. Make sure you invest in a large amount of ink. It might just be for my field, but let me tell you that you print a ton of papers when you’re in political science and law. Ink is great. Ink that lasts you a long time is even better.
9. Change your desktop background…to something appropriate. It’s cute that you have your boyfriend’s face in the middle of your screen, or the Twilight New Moon poster, or even the Hello Kitty logo, but it’s not exactly University appropriate. Try using something a bit more…neutral? A nice design or a motivational poster is kind of awesome. But to each his own.
10. Rate your prof. Seriously, do it. And for the comments that are already on the website, take them into consideration. The people that post on there are usually telling the truth. I know for a fact that I should have taken some peoples advice on some of my profs.
These are definitely lessons learned.