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Starting the semester off right!

Santosh, Life Sciences, Class of 2021

Happy New Year Gaels!

I hope all of you had a much-deserved break over the past two weeks. I know I used this time to catch up on all the lost sleep over the past four months. On a more serious note, the winter break gave me the chance to relax, enjoy time with my family, and reflect on my first remote semester. Fall 2020 was an unprecedented semester for everyone, but we all learned a great deal on how to achieve success while studying online. Here are a few things I noted about this past semester:

Some of the things that worked for me:

  • Creating a daily list of tasks helped me to keep a good work/life balance and was a source of motivation.
  • Taking breaks throughout the day. Simple things like going on walks, playing video games, and chatting with my friends and family relaxed me when university got a bit stressful.
  • Using the Pomodoro method to make sure I was focused during my studying periods: 25 minutes of studying without distractions is better than 1 hour of studying with Netflix in the background.
  • Joining Facebook group chats. Group chats are a great way to communicate with peers about the course content. In addition, you can meet new people and build study groups over the semester. If you’re stuck, search for the Class of 2024 group as a start.
  • Being active on discussion boards and going to office hours to fill in content gaps. Don’t wait until the exam period to ask your questions; go get help today!
  • Stay on top of your coursework throughout the semester so you can have more time to do the things you love to do. Even a little work every day—5 or 10 minutes to get you started—adds up over 12 weeks.

Some things that did not work for me:

  • Studying on my bed: this is a trap! It feels comfy, but it took me several instances to learn my lesson that the bed is created for a person to sleep and not to study.
  • Having my phone near me while I am studying this is another trap! Keep it out of your sight so you even forget that it is there.
  • Having Netflix or YouTube open on a different tab: yes, another trap! It’s all too easy to switch to the fun stuff while you’re working on a tough problem for class.

Another really helpful thing that I did early last semester was to thoroughly look at the syllabus and timeline of each of my classes. The syllabus is an amazing resource that provides the course content, grade breakdown, and required materials needed for the course. Taking a look at it will help you understand how to best allocate your time to maximize your grade. The timeline, meanwhile, gives you an overview of due dates and a general understanding of the work that must be completed each week. Exploring the timeline from one class and comparing it those from other classes can prevent unnecessary stress from building up when you have three large assignments due in the same week for multiple classes (true story, unfortunately). Overall, just looking at these two resources helped me have an idea of how the fall semester will unfold and to stay on track by getting to work on big tasks during quiet periods, while having a careful (but not too burdensome!) plan for busy weeks. I recommend doing this for the winter semester if you haven’t already!

You might remember that my goal for last semester was to manage my time effectively. It was a tough goal to accomplish but thankfully I felt as though I was able to achieve a good work/life balance by the end of the semester! This semester, I want to step it up a level by not only managing my time but also making sure that the time I allocate to certain things is spent dedicated to doing that specific task—and not aimlessly browsing social or watching TV in the background. I noticed that even when I was able to allocate my time well, I just wasn’t able to concentrate for long periods of time. Therefore, quality work hours is something that I am going to strive to achieve this semester. What goals have you set for yourself this semester?

Overall, I think we all learned something about how to (and also how NOT to) succeed in online university over the past four months. It’s very important to take everything we learned and create an ideal schedule for ourselves. I hope all our blogs have gotten you excited and prepared to start this semester off strong.

Good luck Gaels. Let’s conquer this semester together!

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Apps for time management and notetaking

Liyi, Engineering, Class of 2024

Happy 2021! The winter break has been rejuvenating and very much needed. I sat around a lot, I slept a lot, I ate a lot. It was fantastic. Now, we are back to school and back to the grind. If you did not know, first-year engineers at Queen’s had quadmesters during the fall 2020 term. That meant we only had a maximum of four courses in a quadmester, but we were learning at an accelerated pace – each course lasted 6 weeks instead of 12. Now, for the winter term, our courses are back to normal. Our courses are 12 weeks long, but we have SEVEN courses now, which is a tremendous jump from four. The days leading up to the beginning of the winter term were spent planning how to tackle seven courses and stay organized to maximize productivity.

In a previous blog, I discussed struggling to find methods to stay organized. At the time, I had some agendas and a daily to-do list, but I never found my perfect way to organize. I think I’ve found it now. Recently I discovered Notion, an app you can customize to fit your scheduling needs. A digital creator, Ali Abdaal, created a YouTube video to show all the great aspects of Notion.

Currently, my Notion looks like this:

Screenshot of calendars on Notion app

This page is extremely customizable; I got the template from Janice Studies. ‘Master Schedule’ shows all my big assignments and their dates, including midterms, assignments, etc. For each course under ‘Courses,’ there is a separate to-do list that is divided by weeks. This makes it simpler to see all the lectures I will need to watch and the quizzes/assignments to be completed for each week. Lastly, in ‘Weekly Schedule,’ I have all my reoccurring events listed so that I can remember what tutorials or Q&As I have that day. Of course, your Notion does not have to look like mine (I also promise I am not sponsored by Notion; I am just super happy to have found this organizational tool!).

In my most recent blog, I talked about two big things: trying to stay motivated without the goals from high schools and dealing with notes. Over winter break, I had a lot of time to think. In terms of trying to stay motivated without goals, I do have a goal now: to get some internships. For Module 3 of my Engineering Practice course, we had to interview a professional engineer. One of the requirements was to ask the engineer, “What are the skills desired by engineering employers?” When I asked my interviewee that question, I also asked, “How much do grades matter when applying for jobs? What about work experience, projects, and the likes?” We had a great discussion about why grades were important but weren’t the only thing that matter. I am going to work harder this semester and keep moving forward, hopefully boosting that GPA so I can show it off, but working on other projects too.

I think I’ve resolved some of my issues around dealing with notes too. I scrounged enough money to buy an Apple Pencil and the writing app GoodNotes, which helps to take notes or annotate PDFs. This means that I do not have to think about printing PDFs or organizing loose paper and notebooks. I linked GoodNotes with my OneDrive so that everything will be accessible on the cloud. I am ecstatic to start writing digitally, and I enjoy how much tidier my desk is because of it.

These next couple of weeks will be hectic: jumping from four courses to seven, getting familiar with writing digitally, and trying not to burn out too quickly. I hope I can get through it! Good luck, everyone, and again, happy 2021.

 

 

 

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Build Your Exam Study Schedule Drop-In (Vic Hall)

Learn how to schedule adequate time for studying for each of your final exams – no matter how many you might have!

A Peer Learning Assistant will take you through the process step-by-step and answer your questions about revising, catching up and writing exams.

 

Can’t make it to the drop-in? Check out our online resources on how to make and use an exam study schedule https://sass.queensu.ca/exam-prep/study-schedules-and-the-study-plan/#TSP.

 

Download the exam study schedule (April 2019).

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Exam Prep: Your Questions Answered Drop-In Event

Course-specific exam prep

Upper-year students are here to help with questions about prep for: PSYC100, BIOL103, CHEM112, MATH121, ECON110/2, ENGL100, DEVS100, and HIST121

 

Drop in for 5 minutes and learn:

– how to study effectively
– common study mistakes
– where to find practice questions and resources.

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Stop Procrastinating Now! Workshop

It’s that time of year: deadlines are piling up and exams are looming, but you just can’t get started! We’ll show you how to beat procrastination by producing a simple, personalized plan.

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Make the Most of Reading Week: Scheduling & Advice Drop-In

As you look towards the assignments piling up for the end of the semester and wonder how you’ll be able to catch up on the material you’ve missed, Reading Week is a great opportunity to get ahead or back on track.

Our Peer Learning Assistants will work with you to produce a  for the next week.

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Peer Blog: Playing Catch (Up)!

By: Samantha Simpson, Second Year Psychology Student

You were so totally going to start studying for exams 2 weeks ago. Yep, you were going to ace every single one of them, turn your 2.0 GPA into a 4.3 GPA in the process, and make your mom proud. But then the second season of your favourite show (finally!) came out on Netflix, so naturally you had to catch up on your binge-watching first. By the time you finished, night had fallen, and sleep was calling to you. And then you just… didn’t. For the next 14 days. And now exams are, um, next week? Can we rewind this thing?

If this sounds anything like you, be assured that all hope is not lost! It’s time to get some serious studying done and I’m here (along with some handy tips) to help you out.

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How I find the time to do what I love, even during the busiest times of the year

By: Sophia Klymchuk 3rd year Concurrent Education/French Studies student

 

“I don’t have time for anything anymore.”

These are the words that I kept repeating to myself when I entered my first year. When I was in high school, it was easier for me to find time for my hobbies, such as reading for fun, drawing or baking. But when I started university, all the extra assignments, readings and studying made me feel like I didn’t have the time to do these activities. I was under the impression that I had to work all the time, and that it was normal to let go of what I used to do for fun.

You may have, on more than one occasion, had this thought, or shared it with a friend. As a university student, what is expected of you on the academic level is challenging. However, your academic career shouldn’t be getting in the way of your hobbies and what you enjoy doing. I came to this conclusion after my overwhelming first year, and ever since, I’ve been consciously making room for reading and drawing along with my studies. Whether it’s reading, playing music or learning a language, here are some ways that you can find the time in your busy schedule to do what you love.

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Catch Up: Time Management Workshop

Most students find that they fall behind in one or more courses. It’s never too late to get back on track, so our Peer Learning Assistants have designed this class to answer your questions and produce a plan of action.

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