Have you ever heard someone say they work best under pressure?  College students around the world believe that they produce some of their best work when they complete the assignment at the last moment.  Although they have been able to produce an assignment that meets the requirements of the assignment, it can be argued that it is not their best work.  Your best work will include work that you have provided adequate time to think about and examine, one you have taken your time to complete, one you have reviewed, and one that you confidently feel has received the best you could give.

 

Here are more tips on why you should avoid procrastination and get a jump start on studying and writing papers.

1.       Give yourself enough time to develop your idea.  You will want to birth your idea for the assignment and then provide adequate time to nurture, develop, and grow the idea. 

2.       Give yourself enough time.  Waiting until the last minute puts you at great risk to run out of time to work through your complete thought, all parts of the assignment, or review time.

3.       Give yourself flexibility in case of an emergency.  Anything can happen when it is crunch time to complete your assignment.  The fire alarm could sound, your computer could crash, or you could become ill.  Waiting until the last minute to start or complete the assignment could put you in a bad position if an emergency does occur.

4.       Give yourself enough time to ask for help.  What happens if you sit down to start the assignment and you do not understand the assignment or need direction. Waiting until the last minute will not allow to time to follow-up with a professor or maybe even reach out to a classmate.

5.       Give yourself peace of mind.  Waiting until the last minutes creates anxiety and undue stress.  The assignment is stressful enough, adding time constraints does not help with easing the discomfort of the assignment.  Take your time and allow yourself time to come back and review things with a clean and clear train of thought and not one that is full of stress. 

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Besides showing up and participating, taking notes will be one of the most important things you do in the classroom.  Taking notes will help you pay attention, retain information, and serve as a helpful study tool.

Here are a few keys to successful note taking.

  1. Find the medium that works best for you. Do you prefer to handwrite notes, type on a tablet or laptop, or a combination of either while recording the lecture?  You will need to confirm if your professors have any restrictions on how notes can be taken.
  2. Do not write word for word. Find ways to shorten longer words, use abbreviations, and summarize bigger ideas.
  3. Ensure your notes are organized and are easy to understand.  Remember, you will refer to your notes in a few weeks (for a quiz or midterm) and possibly a few months (for a final).
  4. Compare notes with classmates. See if your classmate’s notes offer something different than your own notes.
  5. Review your notes often.  After class, before your next class, at the end of a chapter or section, and before tests. Reviewing your notes will allow the information to stay fresh and offer greater understanding of the information and build on new information being presented.

Learning to take notes early in your college career will not only be beneficial throughout your time in undergraduate school, it will also be helpful in graduate school, post graduate school, and later in your professional career.  Taking notes will help you take direction, review directives, and execute assignments. Although it will be time consuming, it will prove to be beneficial tool throughout your life.

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There are approximately 15 weeks in a semester and right now you are in the final stretch of the year.  Now is the time to continue to push forward and finish strong. You will have a whirlwind last few weeks, filled with study groups, testing, papers, and presentations.  The final weeks of the semester require a lot of time, energy, and brain power.  You can successfully conquer the end of the semester if you follow these simple steps:

1.       Get some rest.  It may seem unachievable, but it is necessary for your brain and body to get a full 8 hours of sleep.  Getting enough rest will help to rejuvenate the mind and allow you to stay sharp.

2.       Eat.  Providing food to your body provides nourishment to the brain.  When studying, have snacks available to help your brain stay sharp and focused on the task.

3.       Align yourself with others.  Reach out to others in the class to study, ask questions, and gauge yourself against their knowledge and progress.  It is helpful to utilize others in the class to stay on track and to see if their understanding aligns with your understanding.  You may have notes or information that they need and you may need something as well.

4.       Start Early.  There is never too much studying and preparation: the more you do, the more you connect and retain the information. Cramming can work for short-term retention of information. You are not working to remember the information long-term, you are simply working to regurgitate the information in a short amount of time.

5.       Prepare for mistakes.  When something goes wrong, it will most definitely go wrong at the most inopportune time. For example, the Wi-Fi will go out, the printer will not work, someone in the group will get sick, you will have to work late, another paper or project will take more time to complete than what you projected.  Take time to plan in case of an interruption or emergency.  You will be grateful when things do not go according to plan and you have time to resolve, restructure, and execute another plan of action.

6.       Ask your professor.  Waiting until finals to talk to your professor is not the most ideal thing to do. Getting face-to-face with your professor as early as possible in the semester will help send a message to the professor that you are serious about your field and that you are an engaged student.  Waiting until the very end of the semester may send the message that you are a slacker.

7.       Check your syllabus.  Please sure to thoroughly review the syllabus.  This is extremely important, because the syllabus lists all requirements, due dates, and possible extra credit opportunities.  The syllabus is a good starting point for your assignment or to see possible topics on the exam.  You should become very familiar with the syllabus and what is being required of you each week.

8.       No cheating.  If you are thinking about cheating, do not it. Cheating can get you suspended from school and ruin your academic career.  Do not participate with friends who may plan to cheat. Do not utilize a previously written paper.  Do not plagiarize a paper. Take the time to truly research the information and present your own knowledge and ideas.  There are so many ways you can get caught cheating and most universities take a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cheating.

9.       Get another set of eyes.  Reach out to friends, classmates, professors, or teaching assistants and ask them to provide feedback on your paper or presentation.  Having another set of eyes will help determine if you missed something, if you are clear in your thoughts, and if you need to tweak anything.  This will require a little planning as you will need to factor in time for you to write the paper or create the presentation, have someone review your materials, and revise it before submitting.  

10.   Relax.  Finals are a stressful time, but take time to relax and unwind throughout the process.  Find a healthy way to release stress;,like exercising, meditating, or listening to music.  Stress can lead to unhealthy anxiety and cause you to perform worse than you should.  Take time to encourage yourself and know that you’ve got things under control.  You went to class all semester, you took notes, you dedicated time to study and you know your stuff.  Tell yourself you got this and be confident in your abilities and knowledge.   

Finals are looming and now is the time to buckle down and end the semester strong. Look at your grades and make and fair assessment of where you stand in the course.  It is important to know how you will end the semester, there should not be very many surprises when you receive your final grades.  Your grades should reflect the work and dedication you have put in all semester. So if you slacked all semester, failed to regularly attend class, and never reviewed your notes you cannot expect to do very well in the class.  These final few weeks are important and should be used to solidify your grades in the class.

Be sure to talk to your professors, ask them about any missing assignments you may be able to make-up, extra credit opportunities, or one-on-one sessions for further assistance on a particular subject. Your professor is just one of the many resources available to you especially during finals.  Take time to talk to your peers and find others looking to study together.  Having a peer that is strong in an area you may not be and vice versa makes for a great partnership, as you can both help each other and benefit from the arrangement.  You also have tutors available to assist.  Tutors can be organized by the department, could be someone you find on your own, or former students that did well in the course.  Do not be ashamed to reach out and discuss the areas that pose a problem for you.  Open communication about where you need help will only benefit you.  Teaching Assistants (TA) is another added resource available for your benefit.  The TA unlike your professor have more availability to assist and may be able to explain in way that is easier to understand.

If you have not reviewed your notes, now poses a good time to review.  Take time to take a second (third or fourth) look at the material.  Be sure you have a clear understanding of the material.  Any cloudy concepts should be reviewed in more detail; write a list of questions you have, create a list of things that require more attention, or focus on the things that you are not confident about.  Besides your notes, see what other resources are available. Did (you) your professor tape lectures? Are there online materials available; PowerPoints, web classes, or supplemental readings are possible options.  Is there a study guide or a list of areas to study on the syllabus?

You are in the final stretch and now is the time for you to pull together all of the resources you have accumulated over the semester.  This will be a combination of notes, relationship building, and asking for assistance. Take this time to reach out and use every resource possible.  Your final grade should not be a surprise, because you have been planning for this all semester. Good Luck!ira finishline

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It is just about time for midterms, you are just about half way through the semester. It is usually around this time stress levels begin to surge.  Before the stressful time commences, you should mentally prepare by finding balance, peace, and taking time for yourself.  Your mental health is the foundation for your academic success and overall well-being.  Be sure you are listening to what your body, mind and spirit are telling you. There are a number of things you can do to stay mentally fit as you navigate through the stressful times of the semester. Be sure to review helpful de-stressing tips below. These tips could be helpful to you or a friend as you navigate midterms. Be sure to keep your mental health in shape, but also check on the health of your peers.  Midterms and Finals bring out the lowest points in a student’s semester and having a good support system will be just what a peer may need. Be sure to build your support system and be open to being a part of someone else’s support system.

Exercise– take time to release some endorphins to help you look and feel better. Exercising will give you a chance to focus on something other than the stress of school.  Go to the fitness center on campus, take a group class, or simply walk around the campus.  The physical activity will help de-stress and will also help you sleep better.

Get some sleep– rest is the next most important thing to your academic success after studying. It is important that you try to regular full night of sleep. Attempt to sleep in a quiet dark room uninterrupted.

Prepare for the task ahead– be sure you have a plan in place on how you will successfully study for up to six tests at one time.  You cannot cram for all of the exams one day before the exam.  You must develop a plan to effectively dedicate enough time for each course.  Taking time to study prior to the week of the exams. Dedicating a little time each day to each class will help you take achieve little piece of the puzzle, by the time exams arrive you will have the whole picture.

Stay spiritually grounded– if you have a spiritual background, now is the time to dig deeper into your faith.  You want to stay spiritually fit before and during these stressful times.  Being spiritually fit will allow you to be calm and centered during the exams. If you do not have a spiritual background, now is a good time to explore your spiritual needs.  Don’t know where to start? Ask a friend, look at campus groups, or see if there are spiritual resources on campus.  Showing up is the first step and all you have to do is determine how you feel.  If you do not like what you see or hear you do not have to stay or return.  Just because you do not like one option does not mean you cannot explore other options.

Utilize campus resources– The campus has a wealth of resources available to you.  Your tuition covers the costs of these resources so feel free to utilize them.  Outside of the fitness center and the spiritual resources that may be available, you also have access to counselors and advisors.  Your advisor and a counselor can serve as sounding boards during stressful times. They can listen to your concerns, allow you to vent, and help navigate your steps.  Don’t be ashamed or feel like you are imposing, these professionals are on campus to be of service to you.  So if you need them just reach out and set up an appointment.

Sometimes it is hard to find the time, or the motivation, during the winter months to work out and keep in shape. We find ourselves indulging in “comfort” foods and curling up with blankets, staying warm indoors. There are some things we can do to help keep in shape during these cold months.

1. Find a workout buddy. It would be even better if you found a whole group of people. These buddies can help motivate you and push you to go to the gym, even when you do not feel like it.

2. Do something you love. It does not matter if  it’s Zumba, yoga, or running, do a workout that you enjoy.

The start of each new year, and the start of each new semester, brings around a time to make changes and resolutions. But how do we keep those changes?

The way I have found MOST helpful is to make a goal list.

Use a planner, post-its, an app on your iPad, whatever works for you.  Look at the picture in this post, it is one way to set up a goal list.  You can use post-its to write down the goals ad be able to switch them out when they are completed. 

Another great way to keep to your resolutions, especially if they are related to coursework, is to set up an Assignment Checklist.  This is just a simple table that lays out the due date, assignment and whether or not it is completed. Take a look at my sample one below.

Just make sure that you break up the goals into manageable pieces. Setting a goal to be fluent in a language by the end of the semester, without setting smaller goals along the way, won’t happen.

Take the semester day by day and enjoy the rest of Freshman year!

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Yes, midterms are here upon us. Here are some tips to help you prepare for these dreaded exams.

1. Take advantage of office hours.- Many students don’t take advantage of  their professor’s office hours. It is a great chance to get one-on-one time and ask any questions you may have before the big exam. Let your professor know you plan on coming, and double check on their hours. Sometimes they offer extra hours during the exam period to accommodate all students.

2. Do not skip review class.- Make it a priority to go over your study guide, notes, and bring any questions you may have to class. Don’t be shy when asking questions, if you have a question, most likely other students do too.

3. Do not cram.- To avoid cramming, organize your time by putting aside time to study each day leading up to the exam. The more that you cram, the less likely you will be when it comes to remembering the actual material.

4. Step away from Facebook- We are all guilty of taking too much time looking at Facebook, Tweeting or pinning ideas on Pinterest. Your fantasy wedding board can wait. Do not have your computer with you, unless you really need it. The temptation to check those sites will distract you from preparing for your exam.

5. Stress management- Hit the gym. Take a coffee break. Go for a walk around campus. Grab a meal with a friend. Taking a break from constant studying will help keep you sane.

6. Study in groups- I always found that studying with a friend or two helped make studying more fun. For example, my chemistry class in my senior spring semester seemed to go fine. Then one day, we learned that our professor had died that weekend. We were then stuck with a professor that knew his information, but could not teach it to students who were not science majors. It was a horrible time. Studying with two girls from my class made it fun. We even acted out the one of the chemical processes to help us remember better.

 

Good Luck!!