Wednesday, August 27, 2014

University Survival List

Okay, okay….I was awful at blogging this summer. You can stop yelling at me now. I have certainly admitted before that scheduling is not the easiest for me to stick to. All of my work and school stuff is always taken care of, but other things fall through the cracks. BUT! School is coming! That means that my life will HAVE to be one giant schedule. And as I am starting the year off with a blog (and not impulsively starting one in the middle of the year), I can add it into my weekly and monthly plans.

So here’s the game plan: I will be posting twice a week. On Tuesdays, I will be posting all my of personal things. Anything like opinions or book reviews that I have posted before. However, I have loved the Pinterest Challenge posts, so I will be continuing those every second Tuesday of the month. I will also be continuing the monthly favourites on the last day of every month, no matter what day it falls on. And finally, every Saturday, I will be showing you the copycat outfits I have used throughout the week. I have a feeling of refreshment at the start of every school year, and all my planning is a result of that.

Speaking of starting school, it is coming up fast! Because of my involvement in o-week, school for me is starting tomorrow pretty much. I cannot believe that I am about to start my second year of university. As I was cleaning out my notes and reflecting on my year, I started to think about the things I learned as I adapted to the new setting. It is certainly a major change from high school. So I wrote you a list of tips that you wouldn’t necessarily think are important.

1.       Do not date the notes you write outside of class.

When I wrote down notes from a textbook, or the plot of a novel, I habitually wrote the date down on the paper. I learned quickly that this just messes up the order of my notes. The class is bound to get behind anyway (I once had notes for a solid three months before we got to the topic in class), so it is better to leave the date for the day you start using the notes. 

2.       Print notes out right away.

If you are planning to keep a hard copy of all your notes (which I strongly suggest as well), then make sure you do it within a few days of the class. Nothing is worse than sitting down for an hour just to print out the past two months of notes. Stay organized! 

3.       The optional writing books come in handy.

If you can swing it, then buy those “how to write and English/history/sociology essay” books. Sometimes, the Internet does not cut it when you need specific information (shocking, I know), and these books have answers to questions you didn’t even know you had to begin with. 

4.       Choose consistent headings

What I mean by this is the way you separate your notes. I switched things up so many times by sheer accident, and by the time I got to studying my notes, I found myself lost. Create a system like using all capital letters for subtitles, and squiggly underlines for big titles. 

5.       Aim for consistency, not high marks.

Unless you’re as genius like my friend Blake, then chances are, your marks will drop from high school. Do NOT let that scare you. Aiming for high marks is certainly a good idea, but it can create a huge pressure on you. High mark should be a goal, but if you aim for consistent marks first, then it will be easier to improve on your grades.  

6.       Use folders in binders to stay organized.

I colour-coordinate things to stay organized. Each of my classes is assigned a specific colour. I have folders of the same colour within the binder. Instead of lugging around a binder, I take out the folders to bring back and forth to school. I have a second folder in the binder to hold the tests and essays that I write throughout the year. It is a great way to keep all of the notes separated and organized. 

7.       A reading schedule comes in handy.

I am in English, which means that I get a lot of novels to read. Typically, you will get a class schedule with the dates of when you will start the novels, or the sections of the textbook. I created a reading schedule where I read three chapters of Jane Eyre a day from one class, and four parts to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for another class per day. Find what works best for you. 

8.       READ!

People get so lazy in university. Just because a teacher isn’t breathing down your neck for your homework, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. To each their own, but it is incredible how much more you pick up in a lecture when you have previous knowledge of the subject. 

9.       If a prof says the class is lecture based, BELIEVE THEM!

At the beginning of the year, my history prof said just that. I still spent time doing the readings, and by the end of the year, I was stressing out over how behind I was. Then I realized it didn’t even matter because all the tests were based off of the lectures right from the beginning. I should have done the readings at the start, and then stopped when I realized that none of the tests had to do with the textbook. 

10.   Live by the clock in exams.

This is probably one of the most important things you can learn. Let me break this down. You are in a three hour exam. You have one essay question, 5 short answer, and 50 multiple choice. You could take one hour for short answer (10 minutes to pick and plan answers, and 10 minutes per question), 45 minutes for multiple choice (some answers will be easy peasy and you can do them in five seconds, but others you will probably have to come back to), and 1.5 hours for the essay (15 minutes to plan, 7ish minutes for intro, 15 minutes per paragraph, 7ish minutes for the conclusion). This will take a little time to figure out how you work best though. But it is very important to learn. 

11.   Put yourself above everything else.

For a couple months in first year, I made myself overly anxious. I had an anxiety knot in my chest, and I always felt like I couldn’t breathe. Part of this was due to insufficient planning. But most of it was due to the fact that I wasn’t taking the time I needed to unwind and do my own thing. School is draining, and you need to be well enough to continue on. Listen to your body, and put yourself as a priority. 

12.   Find the best writing utensils and stick to it.

I just tried to explain this one to my parents and they laughed at me. I take a lot of notes. I LIKE to take notes, so I better have a good pen to do it with. I also better have the same type of pens from the beginning to the end of the year, because looking at different colours of ink while studying for finals is NOT PRETTY. 

13.   Use a planner.

I get a free planner with my school, but I went out and bought a different one. Why? Because I want to be inspired to use it. Because yes, I actually think it is very important to use a planner. You can try to lie to lie to me, but I know you can’t actually keep all those due dates in your head. A planner has a great way of giving you the bigger picture. It really helps me manage my time, which is something I am still learning to do. 

14.   Try to find new ways to research or write an essay.

Don’t get stuck in a bubble. I ended up changing my research habits to better fit the style of my history essay. And you know what? I was among only a handful of people that got an A on that one. Your way is not always the best way. And it can also very from class to class. I write my English essays the same way, but I switched it up for sociology and history. 

15.   Get involved.

One of the best things about university is all of the opportunities to do things on campus. Join a club, get a job, volunteer. Make it a mission to interact with as many different people as you can. University is about finding yourself, so put yourself out there! 

16.   Make the most out of orientation.

As a soph for my university’s o-week, I may be totally biased on this subject. But the reason I wanted to be a soph was because I threw myself into all the festivities of the week, and it really helped me out for the year. Most of the friends I have now are people I met at o-week. Go to all the events, including the academic ones, because in the end, they are all so important to your success in school. 

17.   Keep an open mind.

I make it a point to always make my own opinions about things. People are always going to give you their opinion (entitled or not), but you don’t have to let that influence you. Making your own decisions about a class, a person, or an activity is part of maturing. It will make your life easier to lead, because you know that every step you took was because YOU wanted to take it. 

18.   Get out of high school.

You graduated correct? So why are you hanging out with the same people doing the same things and doing it the same way? It was easy for me to detach myself from high school because I didn’t have the best ever time there. I’m not saying ditch everything about your past, but keep an open mind about moving on. University is different, so BE DIFFERENT. I look at the people I went to high school with who are living the same life, and I have come to realize that university is where I finally get to shine because I chose to move on with my life. 

19.   Be yourself.

I know, it’s cheesy. But this is so true. In high school, people who are just a little bit different are not treated with open arms. I was one of those people. However, I stayed true to myself. I lived the life I wanted to lead. When I got to university, I quickly fit in. For the first time in my life, I am appreciated for exactly who I am. And it feels so good. So even if you lost your true self in high school, take the opportunity to start over and build yourself up. You will not regret this.

So there we have it. My long but hopefully helpful survival list. If you have read everything up until now, you are amazing. And thank you. If you have any questions or concerns about starting university, leave a comment, or feel free to contact me.

Good luck with back to school everyone!

-Daniella

P.S. Due to my commitment with o-week, I will be unable to post anything until September 9th. Talk to you then!