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How ready are you really for school?

By Joyce Leung, 2nd-year Concurrent Education student

Just a short while ago, the August days were shining brightly, Stauffer Library was an easier place to find seats, and September seemed far in the future. We’re now one week in and it’s time to wake up and smell the autumn air, because school is now in session!

Whether this is your first year here or if this is just another school year, we have some tips here that may help you transition back into scholarly mode – all ready for success.

1. Be organized: “There are so many brand new courses, I don’t know how to handle them all!”

After the first couple of classes, your instructors have stated what is expected and have given a syllabus with an outline. If you’re a full time student, those are a lot of assignments, readings, and labs to keep track of.

Rather than being overwhelmed by what you have to do, organize yourself with at least one of the following types of schedules (some may work better than others depending on yourself):

  • Weekly Schedule: Block out not just your classes, but also realistic times needed to travel, eat, and hang out with friends. By doing this, it will help put order in the chaos of things you need to do. Not for you? Try using a To-Do list (ABC method), because not everyone likes following a linear schedule.
  • Term (Monthly) Calendar: Help yourself by placing the due dates of assignments, test dates, and lab dates of ALL your courses (colour code!) for each month so you can see ahead and know how to use your time. Other formats: This could be on paper, online calendar, or in your agenda – you do what works for you.
  • Course Calendar: A great way to quickly condense the syllabus info and get what you need and to keep track. Make one for each course and fill out the assignment/test/quiz/lab and write the dates chronologically with the grade value. It will help you not miss any upcoming evaluations!

2. Preparation is key: “I’m doing the readings, but they’re not helping.”

If you do not understand the material the class is talking about, then perhaps you need to hit the books and do the necessary prep work.

Lectures are most effective if you know what will be discussed before hand – that way you can follow and review what you prepped. But if you’re already doing the readings, perhaps the problem is how you’re taking notes. Here are a few effective methods:

  • SQ4R: It’s important to read actively and be present, otherwise it’s easy to spend hours on the same page and not understand the content. This strategy will help you read effectively and learn your material easier and better.
  • Cornell’s study sheet: This is a simple format that will help you easily write or summarize your notes and also doubles as a study sheet. It’s orderly and easy to follow. The template is in the link above. Not for you? In the same link, you will find other note writing methods that may work better for you such as Mind Maps (Great for visual learners and for linking course material), Graphic organizers, Charts and tables, and Flow Charts. (It will tell you the best way to use those methods).

Those are just a few really great tips to make your start of the school year a productive one. But remember, if some of these don’t work for you, it may not be the strategy itself, but perhaps another thing such as study location or time.

If you would like MORE wonderful study and learning tips, check out the vault over here.

If not, send us an email and we can help you out at askaPLA@gmail.com

Or visit us for Study Skills Coaching so we can get you on your A-game. We’re open 6-8pm at the Stauffer Library on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday starting September 23!

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Turner under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.