As I’m going back to uni on the 25th of September, I thought now would be the perfect time to reflect on ways to make my (hopefully) last school year more succesful than the previous ones. So I guess this post is as much for me as it is for you reading this; I’ve never been the most productive when it comes to school – procrastination has always been my downfall. You may think that makes me unqualified to write a post like this, and you might be right, but I’m writing this down because deep down I know these are the things I should be doing. I hope that by writing these tips down and sharing them with you, I’ll be able to stick to them. And, who knows, maybe I’ll inspire some of you to do the same.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare!
I cannot stress this enough. Always make sure you’re prepared, whether that’s for class, assignments, exams, or even simply the start of the school year – preparation is key. Before the year starts, make sure you have everything you need: from course materials, to books, to even all the stationery you think are going to make your student life easier. Having all of this at hand as the school year kicks off will make you feel much more at ease – nothing’s worse than starting off feeling like you’re already behind. In the same line, if you know what chapter(s) your lecturer is going to be talking about in class, read them beforehand so you already have an idea about what’s going to come – this is going to make taking notes so much easier! This way, you also know what areas you might struggle in and you can already prepare any questions you may have.
2. Show up, every single day
Even if you have class first thing in the morning, or until late at night. Missing class could mean missing vital information, and I have found that studying for an exam is so much easier when you’ve actually been to the classes and have taken notes of everything. There’s nothing worse than preparing for an exam and realising there’s something you don’t quite understand – or worse, have never even heard of before. On the flip side, maybe there are certain parts of the course materials that you don’t even need to study at all! If this is something the lecturer only mentions during class, you could end up wasting time studying something that’s not even going to be on the exam. That’s precious time you could’ve spent studying for a more important bit, or that chapter you can’t quite get your head around yet.
3. Revise, time and again
Those notes I mentioned earlier? Make sure you keep on top of them, and – more importantly – find a system that works for you. When you’re revising, everything needs to be as neat and easily understandable to you as possible. You don’t want to spend time deciphering your own handwriting or trying to figure out what “idkwtm” stands for (don’t worry, I totally made that one up just now). Once you’ve got a good system sorted, it’s important that you revise your notes regularly. It’s also a good idea to revise and maybe tweak them no later than 24 hours after the class – the information is still fresh in your memory and you’ll be able to add things to your notes you didn’t have time for during class. Other than that, it might be a good idea to turn your notes into a concise summary whenever a chapter’s finished.
4. Prepare tasks, even the hard ones
It may seem like a good idea to put off that task that looks like it’s going to take ages, but you’re going to have to do it anyway. And it’s much better to get a headstart than to spend the night before the deadline stressing out because you don’t think you’ll be able to finish on time. In fact, starting a daunting task as soon as possible gives you a better overview of what the task is going to entail and how long you’re probably going to be working on every single aspect of it. Trust me, when a lecturer mentions a task a few months in advance and tells you that you won’t be able to do it the night before, that is not a challenge – they’re actually trying to save you a lot of headache. Working on a task each day, even if it’s just for an hour, is going to make you feel a lot better. And, honestly, an hour out of your entire day isn’t even that much when you think about it.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This, to me, is probably one of the hardest things on this little list. When you feel like you’re struggling and are barely keeping your head above the water, please reach out to someone – anyone – and ask for help. Whether it’s a task you’re struggling to get through on your own, or a certain subject you can’t entirely grasp, there will always be someone who will be able to help you out. There will always be a classmate that’s a little ahead of you on that task and won’t mind giving you a hand in moving forward. The lecturers are there to help you understand the materials; that’s literally their job. They won’t mind if you have a question, or maybe need a little one-on-one time to really get to the bottom of a subject. Your friends and family are there for moral support. No one wants to see you fail, and sometimes things can get too much to carry alone. And that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to admit that. You’re doing yourself more harm than good by trying to do everything yourself when you know you’re in over your head.
And that brings my tips for a more succesful school year to an end. I hope you found these useful, and if there is anything else you think is essential for a school year you can look back on with pride, please do tell me in the comments. I’m always looking for ways to step up my game, especially when it comes to uni.