At university, many students begin to worry less about their grades than they did in school. However, a low GPA in high school can prevent you from qualifying for some companies or continuing to study at a prestigious university. To help you learn effectively, we’ve gathered 12 tips for first-year students from alumni. They told you how to make the most of your time in college.
1. Nurture Your Interest and Be Curious
Any, even the most “useless” subject can become not so boring if you try to find in it something interesting for yourself. A variety of knowledge broadens your horizons. You can never guess where and when they will be helpful. For example, if you suddenly manage to hold a conversation about a rare hobby with your future client, you will be able to attract him, and as a result, you will get a big project for your company.
2. Down with Procrastination!
Starting to prepare for an exam overnight is a bad idea. Not only will you forget what you’ve learned in a few days, but you will also not get enough sleep, feel bad and lose concentration on the exam.
The key to successful learning – study every day. It is known that we remember information better in small parts. Break down the topic into sections and check one whole at a time. Make a study schedule and follow it strictly. Learn the basics of time management so you can allocate your time correctly.
Follow this advice, and you’ll learn the material much better. And the night before the exam, you will sleep well, instead of rushing around in panic, trying to learn an entire course of catalysis in a few hours.
3. Practice Self-Control and Discipline
Discipline and the ability to make yourself work will help you not only at university but also in your future career. Successful people control themselves, their actions, and their emotions. Follow a schedule and study daily, focusing on one task at a time.
Get rid of anything that can distract you during the exercise. Do not be distracted by social networks and the Internet – use special applications that temporarily block access to the network. Turn off all reminders and alerts on your cell phone. Explain to your parents, friends, boyfriend or girlfriend that you can answer later. Expel pets from your room.
4. Keep a Daily Routine and Be Physically Active
To be a successful student and keep your productivity at the right level, you need to keep yourself in good shape and have plenty of energy. To do this, you need to sleep 8-9 hours a day and exercise your own body.
Get up early – that way, you will have more time to study. People are more productive and focused in the morning. And in the evenings, we are more inclined to rest and put things off until the next day.
Exercise your body! Sports and an active lifestyle will give you tremendous energy, allowing you to think faster and remember new information. It will leave you with more time for pleasant activities. Plus, sports are a great way to switch up your workouts.
5. Take Breaks
Have you ever noticed that you’re distracted by other things 20 to 30 minutes after you start working out? A person can continuously keep their attention on the same thing for a limited time, strictly individual.
Time how long you can concentrate on your studies, and when it is over, take a break: have a snack or drink some water, stretch your legs, take a break for some exercise, or go for a walk. Make your schedule with these breaks in mind for a change of activity.
By the way, changing the environment and how you learn a subject will help you memorize better. Along with knowledge, the brain also records information about the environment: the place where you are studying, the background sounds, and the music playing simultaneously. Read notes and books, listen to lectures in a player, and change your posture more often – study while sitting, standing, and even while moving. If you are a visual person, spend more time writing down information; if you are an audial person, read notes on a Dictaphone, start using audiobooks, and listen to them more often.
6. Visualize and Simulate
To memorize better, imagine a model of the subject you’re studying. It’s not just about charts, tables, and other ways to visually represent information but also mental modeling.
To learn something more effectively, create a mental model where each new piece of information is logically built into an existing system.
For example, you can study physics based on the axis of time: first, there were early ideas about the world around, then there was ancient physics, then there was Newton’s mechanics, sections of the science of electricity, magnetism, the discovery of the electron, Einstein’s theory of relativity, quantum theory, astrophysics, etc. All new things confirmed or disproved past hypotheses. In such a logical system, it is easier to make correlations and understand everything, thus fixing it in memory. Understanding is much more important than simply memorizing information.
Another way to memorize better is to use an associative system. Develop your plan of associations for each specific subject. It will help you remember the information you need more quickly in a stressful situation: for example, in an exam.
7. Attend Lectures and be Active in Them
Lectures and classes are beneficial for effective learning. Teachers may step back from the textbook or manual and provide additional information or share experiences from their practice. Talks involve positive communication, where you can ask questions and get feedback. Attending will save time you would have spent reading textbooks and reference books.
Nurture active listening: be attentive, take notes, and don’t be afraid to be the weird guy who keeps asking stupid questions. The better you understand the material in the lecture, the less time you spend studying it before the exam.
By the way, lecture attendance and activity on them are also helpful because many teachers automatically put credits and marks on exams for attendance and active participation. The teacher’s task is not to fail you at the exam and give you a “C” on the next retake. He also does not want to waste time on this.
8. Take Notes Properly.
Develop your system for taking notes. It can be anything, as long as you find it convenient to work with. One of the most convenient is the Cornell system. It consists in initially taking notes in a format of cards for memorizing:
- Divide the sheet into two parts: the left margin, which takes up about a third of the width of the sheet, and the right margin, the rest of the sheet.
- Keep your lecture notes on the right side of the sheet, and indent between paragraphs on different topics.
- On the left side of the sheet, write out all the headings, main ideas, and associations – do this after the lecture as you repeat the material. Now cover the right side of the outline with a sheet of paper and check yourself against the theses from the left side.
- Leave a space at the bottom for the section and subsection headings. It will make finding the information you need in the outline much more accessible.
Before the exam, ask your classmates to make an aggregator of notes: collect the best of them and form a single one with the complete material in a structured form. This way, you will not only prepare for the exam but also earn the respect of your classmates when you distribute the outline to them. If there is a lot of material, you can spread the tasks among several people and combine the work into one.
9. Assist and Use Help
Create your mini-group to prepare for exams and homework. Make it a group of like-minded people with the same goals. Be active in the group – help others. By explaining the material to others, you will have an easier time figuring it out and understanding it. In addition, you will learn how to work as a team and develop leadership skills.
10. Participate in Projects and Make Connections.
Be active. Take part in conferences, and scientific work, create projects and solve cases at championships. It will help you build a portfolio you will present to your future employer. It will be more valuable than a diploma with honors because it shows you have the knowledge and practical experience.
Case championships and conferences will help you make connections. Get to know each other, socialize, and be sure to have an internship. All this will help you get your dream job much faster.
11. Prepare for Exams More Efficiently
Let’s say you already have the right notes or even a complete aggregator. But to prepare for the exam, this is not enough. Most likely, the teacher will ask additional questions in addition to the tickets, so once again, reread the outline. Do it actively: create mental models and hypotheses, and find correlations not just to memorize but to build logic and understand the material.
Test yourself by taking a virtual exam. Exam tickets, additional questions from past courses, and completed homework will help. Develop your weaknesses – identify what you understand the worst and work through those points.
Finally, study a little more than you did in lectures: ask for additional information, curious details, and facts.
12. Encourage Yourself
Rejoice in your achievements. Student years should be fun. Allocate one day a week just for recreation. Go to concerts, exhibitions, and movies. Take an interest in everything that surrounds you. Be greedy and reckless. And if you think it’s impossible to combine all that with serious study, you’re wrong – with a strict schedule and time management, nothing is impossible.
No matter how hard it is to study, remember: that, your possibilities are limitless. You can be a successful student, study well at university, get high marks on tests, and spend that time to your advantage. But only if he wants to. Do not compare yourself with others, only with yourself – yesterday.