Are you having trouble managing your classes, workload and that very small amount of time at your fingertips? Is this your very first semester in college and you just don’t know how to adapt to the fast-paced, demanding environment? Or do you currently have a job that takes away from precious time you could spend reading your textbooks or completing assignments? I’m going to let you in on a few invaluable methods that will help solve your problems and achieve as many “A’s” as possible in your college years. I have used these methods while attending college for the past three years, both at Suffolk County Community College and here at LIU Post, and as a senior with a perfect grade point average, I can tell you they really do work.
1.Take advantage of RateMyProfessors.com
Before you enroll in any class, you must access the ultimate website for information about almost all the professors teaching in just about all the colleges and universities in the United States, reviewed by students just like you and me. One of my professors once said, “You must shop around for your professors,” and he was absolutely right. This is how I look at it: if I had the option of taking a class with an easy and understanding professor who would give me a moderate work load and is fair in the grading of exams and assignments, versus another professor who is very strict, gives too much work, and will only give you an A if you agree with his opinions, I will definitely choose the former. Why? Simple – it makes my life easier. A good professor will probably make you like (some¬times even love) the course, even if it is a liberal arts elective that you absolutely have to take. From experience, I have found most of the reviews on the website to be accurate and very helpful. For one of the classes I took this past year, I had the option of choosing one of two professors. Bothhad good reviews, but one was said to be more difficult and requires more work than the other. Since I had a heavy work load for that semester, I decided to take the easy way out in order to pay more attention to my other classes. Balance is the key. However, remember to not take these too literally, students can be harsh and unfair critics sometimes.
2. Balance your courses
You should try your best to choose your courses for each semester with a balance between very hard and very easy. What I mean by this is if you know you will be taking a very challenging class next semester, when preparing your schedule try to choose other classes that will be less challenging. For example, accounting majors begin their core requirements in their second year and as a result, when they get to their junior year they have to take three accounting classes, such as inter¬mediate accounting, taxation and cost accounting, in each semester. Since this is a part of the accounting program, you don’t have much of a choice. However, you should take advantage of that freedom and try to strike a balance between their levels of difficulty with an interesting free elective course.
3. Map out your week
This is one of the most important techniques I have learned in college and I highly recommend that every individual makes the most of it, whether they are still in school, in college, or out in the business world. This will help you in organizing, handling and succeeding in your classes as well as work and life in general. At the end of each week, I rip a sheet of paper out of my notebook and write down, whether from memory or from my planner, any homework due, any tests I have to study for, any pending projects, any papers I have to write, etc. I try to write it in order of importance, or just star the ones that are most important. I put this on my desk or hang it on the wall. As I complete each assignment, I put a check mark next to the number. As more assignments are due, I add them to the list. I don’t always finish all of the assignments I have for that weekend, so those that I don’t finish I carry forward to the next sheet of paper for the next week. I usually have “work on ____ project” on for a few weeks to remind myself to perform little bits of it over an extended period of time rather than cramming it all to the weekend before its due (hey, you never know, you might have an exam that week as well). I highly advise you to try this and am sure you will find it to be a crucial time-management and organization tool. This list (or map) will show you the magnitude of the work you have for that week and will help you in deciding what you will do when and whether or not you can treat yourself to a day off on the upcoming weekend.
4.Weigh your priorities
School can make having time for yourself very difficult. Not only do you have to go to your classes, you also have to read chapters, do homework and other assignments or research projects, study for exams, or work a part-time job. As a result, most of the time you can’t watch your favorite TV shows, go to the theater to watch the new releases, or even attend career fairs on campus! Of course this depends on your course load and what year you are in. The closer you get to graduation, the less time you will have to do those things you love. But you definitely need to take out time for yourself, whether it’s once a week or once a month. You need to put the entire “college student” on the side and be able to have fun without thinking about studying for a whole day. As a senior, especially considering that I am in the process of writing my thesis, I laugh at myself for even thinking this, but I try to make it happen as often as possible. However, you need to weigh your priorities. Say you haven’t went out with your friends for two weeks, but on Monday you have an exam. Are you going to go out this weekend? It depends. Do you have the time? How much studying do you have to do for that exam? Have you already reviewed the material you learned in each chapter or did you not even look at it? Do you have any other assignments due? These are all things you need to consider before deciding. Look at that list you made and see how much you have to do. If you can afford a day or half a day off, take it!
5. Don’t wait until the last minute
Yes, I know you always hear this and that you are probably sick of hearing it. Everybody is always telling you not to leave things for the last minute, especially your professors. Marissa Lant, a sophomore speech pathology major said, “Every night, recall what you have taken in all your classes for that day” and as a result, when you study for the exam, “You’re not relearning the material, you’re just reviewing it.” At the end of each say she thinks about each class and remembers what was discussed. As a result, come the day before the exam, she just goes over her notes and is good to go. No pressure, no stress. As for me, I like to make index cards for the classes with a lot of memorization. Make them for each chapter as it is discussed in class so you don’t have to do the mall in one day (which takes forever). Then, take them with you and review them whenever you can: in a break between classes or while eating your lunch. Take advantage of every minute – it will pay off in the end! Khadejah Bhutta, a sophomore in the early childhood education program agreed. she said, “You usually find out that you’re having a test a week or two before the actual date, so don’t leave studying for it until the last minute.” She also likes the index card approach and says that study sheets are great. Bhutta also advises that you spend “30 minutes each day to go through them.” Basically, don’t cram all the information to the day before the exam and you will be less stressed and much more prepared to get an A.
6.Finally, do what you enjoy!
I’m sure you’ve heard it before: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” By this they don’t mean get a degree in “your favorite hobby.” Rather, make sure you truly enjoy what you’re studying because it will be what you do for the rest of your life. Right now, these years you spend here in college, they will decide your future. Take me as an example. I am an accounting major and I absolutely love it. It is truly my passion and so many people tell me they can see that in my eyes when I talk about it. I enjoy all the accounting classes I work very hard in them because I care about learning the material and I do very well in the end. I volunteered to prepare tax returns last spring, and I enjoyed it so much I cannot wait to do it again this upcoming spring. I am writing my Honors thesis and am enjoying the research process and finding the information to be very captivating. I plan to pursue my master’s degree, get certified as a CPA and then pursue my PhD. I cannot wait to start my job, not because I need the money, but because I cannot wait to start a career I know I will enjoy for the rest of my life. Do you truly like your major? Do you see yourself dealing with this information for the next thirty or forty years? Most importantly, never think “it’s too late to change my major; I’m already two or three years into this.” Two or three years now is nothing compared to twenty years down the road
-Try to show up to every class so you don’t miss the professor’s explanation of the material
-Put aside time to read the chapter and go over some questions at the end.
-If the course requires a lot of memorization, use index cards!
-Forma relationship with your professor by participating in class or talking to him or her at the end of class.
-Get your work in on time and do extra credit work if your professor allows you.
-Work hard in the beginning and it will pay off in the end.