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Amanda Blackman’s declassified school survival guide

the new semester doesn’t have to overwhelm students with piles of assignments.
Photo: Taelar Pollmann · The Sentry

Now that the semester has passed Labor Day, the real semester begins. Get ready for quizzes, exams, and assignment after assignment. Now is the key time to organize one’s time and set the foundation of healthy study habits to rock classes.

Realign the view of doing schoolwork. If only one item on this list is applied to study habits, it needs to be this one. If studying is viewed as a chore to begrudgingly get through, it will never become a habit. Instead, if it is viewed as making the most of an education and an opportunity to become more comfortable in the class, everything else on this list will naturally follow. View studying as a form of self-care—reducing future stress is what it’s all about.   

Keep a tight schedule of assignments. There’s no worse feeling than getting to a class to realize that a forgotten assignment is due that day. Get a planner and each syllabus and write every due date onto each corresponding day. Being able to visualize when assignments are due will minimize the risk of forgetting. Set reminders the day before in your phone to keep on track.

Do it now. Overcoming procrastination is easier said than done but working to beat it is integral to success. This can be tackling a whole paper as soon as it’s assigned or just looking at it enough to make a schedule of how much work needs to be done each day. Bonus: some professors are willing to give feedback on assignments before they are due. Doing it now can help your final grade.

Study every day. Every credit hour of a class correlates with one hour of studying. With five classes that are three credits each, that means 15 study hours a week. Break it down throughout the week to approximately two hours per day. Study in between classes or on the bus, schedule time at the library, or work wherever it’s convenient. 

Clearly set a place to keep everything for each class. Know where all notebooks, textbooks, syllabi, and any study materials are at all times. Try assigning one file container for all Monday/Wednesday classes and one for Tuesday/Thursday classes. Switch them in and out of a backpack every day to keep them in order.

Prepare before the lecture. This can be fully reading and annotating a textbook chapter or just skimming the class outline. Know what to expect so any questions can be asked immediately.

Have a distraction-free study environment. Turn on Do Not Disturb, say goodbye to the phone for now, and focus. The notifications will be there when the class is over and studying is done. Training your brain to work without distractions will make future studying easier.

Don’t listen to music while studying. Most professors won’t allow headphones during exams and quizzes. If your brain grows to associate recalling facts with music, it will become increasingly difficult and more stressful to remember without it.

Putting these habits into practice early will boost students’ chances of success for not only this semester but for others ahead. 

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