Now that you are at the middle of the second semester away from home and at college, you are probably in the swing of things. Dorm life, activities, friends, new romances, parties, making money, spending money, classes…
Oh, crap! Classes! I knew I forgot about something!
Ah. Freshman amnesia. You’ve got to love it. Yes, froshie, you went to college to get an education. Remember?
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the non-academic stimuli. However, think about the money that you are spending on your education. Think about the sacrifices that you made to get where you are. Think about how hard you worked in high school…
Or, maybe you’re like me. Maybe you didn’t work too hard in high school because the classes just weren’t a challenge. Perhaps you floated through high school with a terrific GPA without having to assert yourself. I know I did.
And college classes were a kick-in-the-butt wake up call for me.
I graduated Bellport High School with a 3.81 cumulative GPA. My first semester at The George Washington University was a flurry of activity for me. I did some plays, had a boyfriend, rushed and pledged a sorority, had another boyfriend, toured around the city, had another boyfriend, worked, shopped, had another boyfriend… You get the idea. Everything came before classes. This landed me with a 2.14 GPA. Because of my first semester at GW, I graduated with a 2.98 GPA. I was heartbroken. I busted my hump to bring it up during my remaining semesters at GW, but I couldn’t make up the slack.
Unfortunately, during my time at GW, I didn’t learn good study habits. I tried to go through my classes – especially during my first semester – the way that I did in high school. I tried to float and BS my way through everything. I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were given to me in regards to studying and advancing myself academically.
Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. To make sure that you don’t, here is some advice:
1. NEVER PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER. You should never have a reason to pull an all-nighter. Get your work and studying done on time with a few hours (at the very least) to spare. I didn’t learn this lesson until junior year. I attempted to pull an all-nighter, and ended up sleeping through my Critical Methods mid-term. Thanks to my stupidity (along with my bad study habits), I ended up with a D+ in that class.
2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TUTORING. A lot of colleges offer tutoring for FREE. That’s right, FREE. Swallow that pride and ask for help. Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t have ended up with a C+ in Chemistry two semesters in a row. OUCH.
3. VISIT THE WRITING CENTER. Term papers are a big deal in college. My sister is getting hammered in point deductions because she doesn’t spell very well. She also writes casually, rather than the professional/medical style she must learn to master. The writing center is also a FREE resource that many colleges offer. Take advantage of it!
4. READ YOUR ASSIGNMENTS. This isn’t high school anymore. The Cliff’s Notes just aren’t going to cut it. Believe me, I tried. One of my professors, however, knew a way around students that solely read Cliff’s Notes: She asked questions not included in the Notes to the students she suspected didn’t read the book. Talk about busted.
5. TAKE NOTES. Again, this isn’t high school, folks. The professor isn’t going to tell you when to and not to take notes. Jot down what you think is important. Learn shorthand, if you must. I had a teacher with Tourette’s Syndrome, and I decided to write down how many times he dropped the “f-bomb” in class. I ended up taking endless notes, albeit including the obscenities that sprung forth from his lips, and scored an “A” in the class. I thought it was just because he was a good teacher, so I took another class he taught. Again, I took notes with all of his obscenities, and got yet another A. This was Humanities, and it was really hard. I think only 3 people got As in the class. (I wonder if they knew that he said “f**k” 324 times during his lesson on Marxism…) In all sincerity, writing down what is important will help you retain the information.
6. TAKE A 10 MINUTE BREAK FOR EVERY 20 MINUTES YOU STUDY.
Did you know that the human brain can’t process information that it receives for over 20 minutes at a time? It is very important that you take a 10 minute break for every 20 minutes of studying so your brain can make room for the next bout of information.
7. FORM / JOIN STUDY GROUPS.
This is actually something that I did take advantage of. Sharing ideas, discussing a topic and working together are only a few ways that study groups will help you comprehend subject matter. Even if you do well in a subject, join a group to help others. You will gain valuable insight from the perspectives of your peers.
8. VISIT THE LIBRARY.
I don’t think I actually went into the library until second semester of my sophomore year. If I had gone in earlier, I’m sure I would have done much better in my classes. You pay a library fee in your tuition. It’s not like the $3 fee you pay for a library card. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS!!! Don’t waste your money on something that you don’t use. You don’t have a choice of whether or not you pay the library fee. You pay for it, so you had better take advantage of it.
Again, you are at college to learn. Don’t be like me and figure this out with just 2 years left of your college career. You (and your GPA) will regret it.