Its the first week of a brand new semester. The campus is buzzing with students braving the cold and hustling to classes. To most, this is seen as a cruise-through week where classes consist of little homework and professors lay down the ground rules for classroom conduct. However, instead of mentally checking out, this is a great week get your study habits started! Taking steps towards coming to class prepared will keep you from getting overwhelmed, and will help you get more bang for your buck (let’s not forget that you are paying for these classes! The smart thing to do is engage and get as much as you can out of them). I’m a four-year student, so here is some personal tips from yours truly that are easy to implement into your daily life.
Utilize Desire 2 Learn (D2L)!
D2L is this epic site UW Stout uses to give each class an online presence. You can see some of my current classes as well as previous ones. As a student, you will be given a password/name to sign in with and all of your class information is given to you. This is also something that will be explained to you as an incoming freshman. Professors can upload notes, powerpoints, additional resources, and assignments. Students can check out a class list (containing all the names and e-mails of their classmates), take quizzes, hand in assignments, and even take exams with D2L. Every professor uses this resource differently, but I would highly recommend that students utilize this site as much as possible. Here are some suggestions of how to do this:
1.) Check out the syllabus BEFORE your first day of class: See if you have any questions on the material that you could clarify with your professor. Make a binder for each class, or use Microsoft OneNote (this program is on all Stout laptops), to organize material for your class. Having information all in one spot that you can access when you’re offline is really important.
2.) Make note of important dates: Most professors will post some form of a schedule. I copy and paste mine to a page in my OneNote program for reference. While you go through the class, cross-out or delete dates so you can anticipate lessons and finish homework on time. Make sure you check out when tests and projects are due! This will help you schedule for work/other student orgs/etc. in advance.
3.) Review the class list: Is there anyone in the class that you know, or have had in previous classes? In the past, having an accountability or study buddy for a class has been very beneficial. If you don’t know anyone, come to class on the first day with the intention of making some new friends :)
Figure out how to use Microsoft OneNote
Seriously. As a Stout student, you’ll have this on your laptop. Its amazing. You can have as many ‘notebooks’ as you need in this program, and in each ‘notebook’ you can have tabs. In the tabs, you can create different pages. Example: I have three notebooks– Work, Personal, and Classes. Within each, I have different tabs. So, for work I have tabs for different my different jobs. For classes, I have a tab for each and that’s where I take all of my notes. Its great for organization, and also you can sync it to be online. This way, if your computer crashes, your notes are still intact! If a friend is sick, you can send them your notes with only a few clicks, and if you need to access your notes but don’t have your computer, you can get them online. Its great for staying organized and on top of things! I even copy and paste syllabus and schedules in to my notebooks for each class so I have them easily accessible when I’m offline.
Making a commitment to be organized BEFORE you’re super stressed out is crucial. Organizational habits will have you working as a lean, mean studying machine by the time midterms roll around. This can include all sorts of things, but the main goal of organization is to make things easier for yourself.
- Get a planner, an online calendar, a desk calendar, a phone calendar or whatever it takes to help you stay on-task.
- Organize your living space so you can find things when you need to find them.
- Tidy your desk and make it a place that you want to sit and study at.
- Get up at the same time every morning (this is proven to help students!!) and TRY to go to bed around the same time every night.
- Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep (yes. this is possible if you’re organized).
- Make sure you plan exercise and free-time into your schedule!
Surround yourself with other committed students
Like I said before, its has really helped me in the past to have a study buddy for each class. If you don’t, consider forming a study group. Don’t roll your eyes just yet! This isn’t as nerdy as it sounds. Having a study group would only consist of making a commitment with a few other people to meet and study in each other’s company a few times a week. Even if you’re not working on the same projects, this helps you stay focused and get input on the projects your working on.
Also, its really great to have a few people you trust to take you to Perkins at 2 AM during finals week when you haven’t slept in a few days…
You know what distracts you. For me, its bringing a sleeping back into labs when I know I’m going to be there late at night :) Instead of procrastinating when you’re supposed to be studying, PLAN FREE TIME INTO YOUR SCHEDULE! If you don’t, you’re just going to get bored and push off the things you’re supposed to be doing later. This includes planning sometime for a run, lifting weights at the Health and Fitness center, or heading down to Stout Adventures to climb a few routes on the rock wall. If you set aside time before you’re stressed, then you’ll be less likely to procrastinate.
Implement a few habits like these and you’ll be set to go for the semester! For more tips, head on over to this website. Use your time wisely and engage in your classes this week. Good luck!