Vol 1: Issue 9  |  Home   


Table of Contents

  1. How to Manage Your College Workload
  2. How to Study... But Not Until You Drop
  3. Classroom Survival Tips
  4. Tips For Improving Your Writing Skills
  5. Efficient Note Taking Tips
  6. Methods To Review For Tests And (Groan) Edit Notes
  7. Should You Find You Are Falling Behind In Course Work
  8. Oft Forgotten Coping Strategies To Help Manage Changes In Your Routine
  9. Learning How to Avoid Undue Stress
  10. Ten Methods To Maintain Your Health For Both Semesters
  11. Get To Know Your Professors
  12. Knowing The Differences Between Feeling Depressed, Being Down Or Simply Fatigued
  13. Absolutes: What Every First Year Student Should Establish
  14. Tips For Choosing An Effective Tutor


How to Manage Your College Workload

An incoming student’s primary nemeses are the constructive utilization of their new freedoms -- (no one to make sure you LEAVE FOR SCHOOL ON TIME, to CHECK PERIODICALLY IF YOU STUDY -- and the use/management of their time! Unfortunately I have witnessed many students drop out because they lacked even the basics on how to control, plan and focus constructively their freedom and time, nor grasp the concept their primary occupation was that of full-time student.

Personal opinion: Any individual, where an expensive purchase was made to provide an opportunity to learn, to pursue a degree(s), but cannot grasp the importance of the opportunity and seize it, is -- to be polite -- immature, incompetent and wasteful.

The focus of this article is to provide various tried and true methods that will help students manage their workload in a sane, work ethic (not torturous) manner. To enroll, only to succumb to endless partying and expending just enough effort to pass, becomes the norm is what this article hopes students will avoid, with its dire consequences and unwittingly journey down the fool’s path!

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How to Study... But Not Until You Drop

The word the cuts all ways with a sharp serrated blade: You never have enough time, or studied as much as possible, or not enough or plenty of time remains, or I am all studied out, etc.

No matter which above scenario -- I may have overlooked a few -- this word is probably the predominate word in an undergraduate’s life aside form George Carlin’s seven favorites, the words need money and the exclamatory what!

To help avoid what may seem the inevitable, a few simple but practical tips that may help down the academic road. I have labeled then No Brainers, not as an insult. They are reminders if you apply common sense to this or any situation, many of the answers you seek are directly in front of you or in the distance, depending if near or far-sighted.

No-Brainer 1: Set aside a given time to study for each class (called a routine) and stick to it. The old adage still applies in the new millennium... every hour in class equals two hours of studying. If you have a particularly hard subject, change the ratio to 1 to 3 (always do your best to study this thorn in your side first).

No-Brainer 2: Besides keeping up with the syllabus (Issue 1, or was it 2), please include time to go over notes you have hopefully transposed. Please mark the notes as you would your text point for important facts and most importantly that you can interpret what lays before you. The worse, or at least one of the worse feelings in academia is looking at your notes while studying for a test and say "What In God’s name is this" (I am sure expletives are used instead)

No Brainer 3: Come to class prepared either to hold an awe-inspiring debate or to take a pop quiz.

No Brainer 4: Ties in nicely with NB 1; establish your place of study. If it is the library or its study annex, or the computer lab, maintain the schedule. If it is your room, please have the obvious staples such as a desk comfortable chair (only if you bring one from home), good lighting, and all the supplies you require. I always preferred the former; it was generally free of distractions (plus many pretty faces to look at when taking a break), whereas your room may not. Finally, if either one does not appeal to you, does your dorm, frat, sorority, have a quiet room set up for studying?

No Brainer 5: Study, as much as you can during the day, for the nights are meant to PAR...no, this is not the reason. Your mind should be more alert and thus you will accomplish more during the day that late at night. However, do take the time to smell the roses occasionally before returning to the books.

No Brainer 6: Watch what you eat before, during and after you study, and be sure to give yourself adequate breaks. Eating food before could make you tired; sugar gives an energy high before your heads does a kamikaze into the books when the rush ends. Once your finished...stay away from caffeine products, you want to sleep, not state at the dark ceiling and four walls for hours. Define break by any period spent away from studying that does not exceed 15 minutes (20 in an emergency) and STICK TO IT! If you are honest with yourself, you will know when a break is required.

No Brainer 7: Some recommend you study with individuals who have the same class. Not convinced of this except during emergencies (mid and final exams), as you end up socializing far more than studying. I always preferred the lone ranger approach save for emergencies. You will have to decide which scenario best suites your grades.

No Brainer 8: If you are having trouble with any subject...SEE THE PROFESSOR ASAP. The sooner you find the problem, it hopefully will mean the easier it will be to understand the course’s remaining material.

No Brainer 9: If you miss the class, obtain the notes from a reliable source. It would not hurt to also find one student you mesh with that has a handle on the subject (besides you) should you need to exchange ideas and viewpoints regarding the courses material.

No Brainer 10: Have an 8:00 A.M. class that is required for your major? CHANGE THE MAJOR! If you take this one seriously, please sign the release form at the bottom of the Financial Aid Journal for your first frontal lobotomy.

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Classroom Survival Tips

  1. Do not be late, or at least learn some great "why I was late" excuses.
  2. Sit near the front.
  3. Act interested in what the instructor is saying occasionally. They like that.
  4. Get to be friends with the students who seem to know what is going on.
  5. Take notes as if you do this for a living and will later publish them for reading by millions.
  6. Transcribe your notes as soon as possible: You will know what you had written two weeks ago; in addition, it immediately reinforces the lesson.
  7. Keep up with or keep ahead of your syllabus...failure to do so could be failure I did so!
  8. Ask questions. "When does this class get out?" is not always an appropriate question, however.
  9. Try to figure out what the instructor thinks is important. Often, they are the ones who make up the exams and assign the grades.
  10. Keep a list of all key words in the subject matter.
  11. Do not fall asleep.
  12. If you do fall asleep, try not to snore loudly or obnoxiously.
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Tips For Improving Your Writing Skills

  1. Find the campus writing or "academic skills" center. Talk to the counselors there.
  2. Get Strunk and White’s Elements of Style or another style manual.
  3. Use a computer word processor to write your papers.
  4. On your word processor, use the SPELL CHECKER. Spelling correctly makes you look smarter.
  5. Get to be excellent friends with an English composition major.
  6. Have that person critique your writing and offer suggestions. Buy them lunch.
  7. Check out an on-line writing lab on the Internet World Wide Web.
  8. Plan your thoughts with an outline first.
  9. Try copying term papers written by someone else off the Internet and you may well...
  10. Get kicked out of school.
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Efficient Note Taking Tips

  1. Sit as close to the front as possible, so you can hear and see (and be heard and seen).
  2. Write down the main points on the right side of your notebook while you...
  3. Write down the details on the left side, and bring three pens...
  4. A dark black one to underline the key points.
  5. An orange one to underline points you are unclear concerning the point to be made.
  6. A red one to highlight the things your instructor says...
  7. The following topics, segments, theories, etc., will definitely be on the exam.
  8. Points, formulas, dates, theories, etc., you should never forget.
  9. Say, write; spell extremely important facts, etc., two hundred times for emphasis.
  10. Leave lots of white space in your notebook for later editing.
  11. Make copies of your notes as a back up measure... This will enable you to avoid that sick heavy feeling in your stomach when you realize your notebook is missing.
  12. Ask permission first if you may bring a tap recorder to class... This will enable you to listen to the lecture again (yawn), so you have not missed any vital information
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Methods To Review For Tests And (Groan) Edit Notes

  1. READ them within a few hours of taking them, and while reading...
  2. Try to decipher what you wrote (ask a friend for help).
  3. Try to paraphrase what the instructor was saying and/or...
  4. Try to outline the contents of the lecture.
  5. Make a list of all special or key words.
  6. Write three possible exam questions for each lecture, or get together with other class mates to collectively think of questions (definitely try it once... it might work).
  7. Try to answer your own questions correctly... do not backfill with useless data.
  8. Keep a second notebook for a summary of each lecture.
  9. Keep an audio (or video) tape journal of your progress.
  10. Take a short course or seminar in note taking, (see your college advising office or academic skills center).
  11. Transcribe your notes as soon as possible: You will know what you had written two weeks ago, plus it immediately reinforces the lesson.
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Should You Find You Are Falling Behind In Course Work

  1. Evaluate your own performance and identify your weakest areas.
  2. Get help from your instructor: show him/her that you’re trying (at least make it appear that way).
  3. Schedule more minimum daily study time for your weak course(s). See 10 ways to more effectively utilize your time.
  4. Get a study partner who you get along with fairly well on most days.
  5. Check if your college or department has a tutoring center or academic "study skills improvement center" or similarly named resource. Use it. Use it often. Use it as often as you need to.
  6. Unplug your TV until you’re back "on-track." Do the same with all the other gadgets in your life that are asking time away from your studies.
  7. Check the bookstore for study guides in the subjects you are struggling with. Ask your instructor for assistance, if necessary.
  8. Find a friend who aced the course, or has a friend who did, or who knows a boy/girlfriend of a friend who did. Be nice to this person.
  9. Find a friend or acquaintance that will tutor you for a while. It wouldn’t hurt if they had already taken the course and completed it successfully.
  10. Hire a tutor if you can afford it, but see item 5. again before you throw away all of your hard-earned savings on this tip.
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Oft Forgotten Coping Strategies To Help Manage Changes In Your Routine

Incoming freshmen, with their increased workloads and accompanying responsibilities tend to push aside how they had managed time before enrolling.

IF (incoming freshmen) suddenly find she or he has had more academic work in one week than they had in one month during the same month a year ago. Attached to this is often the responsibility of Federal Work-Study job or any on- or off-campus employment.

Since the academic workload appears to have increased geometrically, coming home from your part time job, flipping on the one-eyed monster, relax before finishing an hour or so of high school homework, seems light years away. You come back to your dorm room (hopefully its is relatively quiet, a dull roar), and flop onto your bed. You make several sympathy intended sighs (if your room is occupied), while the reality you have four hours to read 42 pages, study for a quiz, and complete lab work hits you.

Generally, many of the employers of college students have been sympathetic, helpful, realistic, and understanding of what you’re experiencing. They may show it by permitting you to study while things are slow, by telling you to take off early (they will clock you out at the normal time) because you have a big test tomorrow. This helps... but if you have, an employer who does not believe in cutting breaks because he or she never received any...OUCH!

Another time structure change (disruption) is class scheduling. Though most students find this advantageous -- they are not within the high schools halls or learning for seven to eight hours daily -- this can generate severe problems if you can neither manage your time or freedom.

Another time structure distraction is class size. In large schools, the 300 per student lecture hall is alive and thriving and possibly intimidating, especially when you find you are number and all grades are posted after your number on a public bulletin board outside the lecture hall.

Students attending much smaller institutions often find class sizes comparable to those in high school, where the Prof. actually knows your name and debates and discussions are normal instead of a being regarded as a freak of nature.

All of the adjustments to college life, to a student’s time structure changes is the lack of time the student has to kick back, to relax physically and to mentally unwind.

The personal time so jealously guarded a year ago, seems to evaporate before your eyes, until hours are replaced by minutes. And if this is not enough, your increased workload places you within the majority of students who, knowing they need to relax, unwind, etc, feel guilty as hell for doing so, since there is always something to do.

How to bring this factor under your control, you may wish to do the following:

  1. You choose college, knowing the workload would be different and harder, however, since it was you conscious choice, make the effort to secure free time to relax. When you manage free time for yourself, appreciate it, for you have earned it!
  2. Try to fit in extra curricular campus event, even to the point of making them part of your schedule. Look at it as a reward for the countless hours or work and study.
  3. Enjoy the dorm experience (if possible) just being with others you will find you and half the planet is experiencing the same changes.
  4. REWARD yourself periodically for handling your adjustments to college life, for giving your courses you best effort. Do not feel awkward doing so; yet do not begin rewarding yourself unnecessarily.
  5. Find YOUR private places on campus, places you can be alone to think, unwind. Have one inside, another outside. This is for your private moments of thought, self-examination, and yes, DAY DREAMING. You owe it to yourself to have these moments if for nothing else, for you sanity, your privacy. DO IT!
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Learning How to Avoid Undue Stress

Post-secondary Stresses

You are expected to perform academically in an environment of increased competition. There are social pressures -- trying to fit in with new groups of people -- challenges of managing money and paying bills. Worry about repaying college loans or getting a job after school

What Stress Does to You

When the body is under stress, it produces adrenaline -- blood pressure rises, the heart pounds, hearing sharpens, breathing deepens to provide more oxygen, perspiration increases to keep the body cool, and muscles tense in preparation for action.

This flow of adrenaline can disrupt the digestive system and weaken the immune system, leading to short-term problems such as heartburn, indigestion and the common cold as well as long-term, and sometimes fatal, afflictions, including heart disease and stroke.

Taking Care of Yourself

Eating right can help reduce stress and its adverse effects. Here are a few tips:
Avoid large meals and high fat foods. Eat small meals high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and grains. Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol, which drain the body of vitamins and minerals. Cut back on salt, which elevates blood pressure

It is important to pay attention to stress and implement a stress reduction program in your lifestyle. Regular exercise cannot only reduce tension but helps maintain a healthy body weight. Meditation, massage and counseling are good alternative methods of reducing stress.

Alcohol, drugs and coffee will only aggravate your problems and, in turn, cause additional stress during the college years.

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Ten Methods To Maintain Your Health For Both Semesters

  1. Walk to school, ride your bike, climb a tree, (well, then, maybe not an exceptionally tall tree).
  2. Keep yourself emotionally and spiritually centered and balanced, one day at a time, all the days of your life, (or at least until you graduate).
  3. Walk your dog (cat, pig, child, grandparent, etc.) for an hour or so a day.
  4. Eat like you’re training for the Olympics.
  5. See a nutrition specialist at the clinic or "health center."
  6. Get enough sleep to feel rested in the morning...
  7. But not too much, so that you feel "hung over" all day.
  8. Have some good old-fashioned fun every day.
  9. Find some good friends to talk to.
  10. Sign up for a "wellness" workshop, and follow their advice!
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Get To Know Your Professors

Students might be well acquainted with their teachers at a small college but remain perfect strangers at a larger one. Do not let this happen. Make the first move and introduce you. I hope that you will have made a friend. In addition, you may need a letter of recommendation or a reference from a college instructor some day.

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Knowing The Differences Between Feeling Depressed, Being Down Or Simply Fatigued

Please, before you continue reading, know the difference between feeling down (did not do as well on my test as I thought) and outright depression (constantly sleeping late, blowing off classes and activities because you always feel tired). If you are feeling down or have some accompanying I am feeling sorry for myself depressions, I hope the following information may help.

NOTE: If you believe you are suffering from a temporary bout of severe to chronic depression, seek medical help immediately!

One of the better cures is confiding in friends that are good listeners, maintain your trust/confidentiality and generally know how you tick and what may snap you from the blues. In certain cases, if you have a good relationship with one or both parents, a call home can often make things seem not so glum or as bad as you think you have it.

If neither a friend(s) or a parent(s) is a viable option, you may want to go for a long walk, have a good workout and find a quiet place and talk to yourself (if my walls could only talk). If this is not a workable solution, make an appointment with the school’s counseling center. The cause(s) of what is making you feel blue they have heard before and will hear again. One important fact to note: If you feel you and the appointed counselor are not simpatico, politely explain your situation to the center’s director and asked to be assigned to a counselor the director believes would fit your personality.

If the options above still are not working for you, the remaining pointers will depend on your preferences regarding whom or how you wish to seek assistance. If you have religious beliefs, and there is a denomination represented on your campus, a possible phone call followed by a visit may be helpful. If you have a decent relationship with a professor (provided she or he is not the cause of your problem, seek an appointment, he or she may have the solution.

If you have the time and can wait to some degree, there are several on-line college forums with experts willing to help, or even if there is a radio talk show that helps with individual problems. If you feel tired or fatigued, a trip to the campus clinic or infirmary may help if you are able to talk to a nurse or a doctor, etc. Many times at campus clinics/infirmaries, if they were not handling an emergency, you would be surprised in how they may take the time to sit and listen.

If you have a favorite relative you have kept in touch with, or finds at another school, or a significant other, give them a call. Finally, what would work for me at times would be the simple act of writing a letter explaining why I feel so down. The act of placing your thoughts and feelings can at times appear to mimic the sensation that whatever has been troubling you has slowly oozed from you body and onto the paper before you.

Regardless of what option, or combination of options you attempt, please try one of them. To do nothing, or not to want to do anything about it can generate even greater metal anguish.

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Absolutes: What Every First Year Student Should Establish

  1. Determine a study schedule
    Our first year of college promises to be busy one, so make sure to set aside at least a couple of hours of each day for homework. Getting into a study routine early on will help you meet the academic challenges of college and make effective use of your time. Sure the first few weeks of college is exciting, a time to meet someone and see new places, but you also need to realize that this is not a long vacation. You need to set a routine and stick with it.

  2. Learn the major’s pre-requisites and requirements
    Whether you’ve chosen a major or not, you’ll need to learn what pre-requisites are necessary to declare a major in a particular subject and then what classes are needed to complete that major. Even in your first semester, it’s never too early to start fulfilling major pre-requisites or requirements.

    Do not hesitate to consider transferring if you cannot get into the program you want. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I transferred to Moravian College. One of the best judgment calls I have ever made. CAVEAT: Be sure you research all aspects of transferring, for it could be a disaster.

  3. Meet with an advisor
    A catalog of courses will tell you what the pre-requisites, requirements are for a certain major, and requirements you must satisfy in order to graduate. However, if you have a question not answered by the catalog, or just want a little guidance about choosing a major, talk with an advisor. Advisors can also give you insights into life at college and within certain academic departments.

  4. Meet your instructors
    Take the opportunity to meet your instructors and visit with them during office hours. You will invariably learn something about the instructor and gain new information on their subject. Hopefully, you’ll make a new friend. In addition, you may need a letter of recommendation or a reference from a college instructor some day and knowing them will certainly help you when you go to ask.

  5. Take time to socialize Making friends is one the best things about college, so take time to socialize and meet new people. If you are shy, try joining a club or ask some other people in your class to study one evening over coffee.

  6. Know your campus and the resources it has to offer
    Become well acquainted with your campus and its resources such as the gym, the library, computer facilities and so on. Avail yourself to all your school has to offer. After all, you’d hate to find yourself writing a paper late at night, have your printer fail, and not know where to go in order to get everything printed in time for your 8 a.m. class.

  7. Set up a monthly budget
    A simple monthly budget will keep you from over-spending and make paying bills so much easier. Allocate yourself a weekly allowance after bills, stick to it, and remember that the little things add up fast.

  8. Balance work and play
    All work and no play is a sure recipe for unhappiness but so are all play and no work. It all catches up to you eventually. Learn to balance schoolwork with a healthy social life. Try to set aside some time each day to rest and relax.
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Tips For Choosing An Effective Tutor

  1. Make sure they speak a language you understand (if they do not, get an interpreter).
  2. Ask how their previous students are doing. If they are currently on probation, ask why.
  3. Be clear about your objectives. Set realistic goals. Monitor them. Ask for feedback on your progress each session.
  4. Avoid tutors who like to tell stories, "...I crammed for Calculus, all of differential equations in one night..." or other such fantasies.
  5. It can be considered a bad sign if a tutor shows up late for your session or...
  6. Shows up drunk (with two buddies).
  7. Show up in a Ferrari, or
  8. Doesn’t show up at all.
  9. It’s a good sign if they seem to know the subject and can explain it well.
  10. It’s also a good sign if you are still awake when they are finished explaining something to you.
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