By Chelsea Hall, 2nd-year Life Sciences student
The start of the new year marks the beginning of the winter term: you will have a new schedule, face different challenges, experience more possibilities open to you and so much more. Although new year resolutions are often hard to keep, you can learn good habits anytime. There is no better time to do so than now!
Keep, Toss and Try
Take a moment to reflect on your fall term. Are you pleased with your current marks? What study skills worked for you (or which ones did not)? Where was your favourite study location? What resources did you utilize? Asking yourself these questions (or similar ones) is a simple, but valuable exercise.
You can even try our Study Skills Questionnaire to give you started. It will give you a pretty good idea as to what went well in the fall term, if you are moving forward in the direction you want to be and what improvements need to be made.
Use the Keep, Toss and Try approach for your winter term. Decide the following: what you are going to keep doing to help you be successful; what will you throw away that isn’t working; where do you hope to improve; and what new strategies or habits do you want to try?
Manage Your Time and Start Early
At the start of term, you have the luxury of not being behind on work — and frankly it is best to try and keep it that way!
Start by creating a four-month term calendar complete with examination days as well as assignment/essay and laboratory due dates. This will enable you to visually see weeks that are going to be challenging and plan your time accordingly. In addition, laying out the four-month term calendar means that due dates and exams will not sneak up on you as easily.
Another useful organization tool is creating a weekly schedule that includes more than just class time. Create a schedule that includes all your extracurricular involvements (volunteering, athletics, clubs…), designated study time and be sure to include some downtime as well! Be generous in the time that you allocate for each activity as most things tend to take longer than first thought!
Keep a Positive Attitude
Something I wish I had been told in my first year of university is that your fall marks don’t define you. Whether your exams went incredibly well or not so great, the winter term offers you the opportunity to start fresh. For year-long courses, you can improve your grades, or you can start completely anew with half-year courses. Don’t get discouraged: remember that optimism is one of the top determining factors for academic success.
Why not try attending one of Learning Strategies’ free workshops this term to get you started on the right foot? Our workshop schedule is available online — check it out!