1. I need to sort out my priorities
We can thank Ron for this sage piece of advice. All too often it feels like school becomes my whole life during the year and inevitably I burn out at some point. In order to be successful I’ve found the best way is to find some balance, whether that’s grabbing a coffee with a friend, going home for the weekend, or lounging on the couch and catching up with my favourite show.
2. I can’t turn back time (though I really wish I could)
As far as I know, time-turners don’t actually exist. And yet every night before a major deadline I find myself wishing I could reach for one to give me just a few more hours to finesse my essay or memorize a few more dates for my exam. The reality is that there are only 168 hours in the week to get everything done, and most of that is taken up by sleeping, eating, or class time. The only way I’m able to stay on track is to organize myself, so here’s a few things I find most useful:
- Keep a planner
This is the easiest thing I can do to keep me organized. At the beginning of the semester I write down all the major dates I need to know for my class, that way I can just easily flip through my planner to see what I need to prepare for in the upcoming weeks.
- Break up your assignments into smaller projects
Let’s face it: it can be pretty daunting when you’re assigned a 10-page research paper. To encourage myself to begin working on it I give myself smaller deadlines. For example, I like to set dates for when I want my research to be done, the outline planned out, the rough copy written, and the essay edited.
- Daily to-do lists
In the morning I’ll typically write a to-do list on a post-it and stick it on my desk. That way I know what tasks I need to accomplish during the day and I add anything important that I think of along the way. As an added bonus, it’s really satisfying to check things off and watch that list grow smaller.
3. Dumbledore’s Army was onto something…
That is, that forming a study group can be a great way to learn. I’ve found that by getting together with one or two more people to study has been beneficial; especially when I don’t understand a concept or have missed a lecture, there is usually someone else in the group who can fill me in. As an added benefit, studies show that teaching someone something is the best way to store it in your long-term memory!
4. My professors aren’t always out to get me
In the end, even Snape turned out to be not such a bad guy after all. I’m in my 4th year now and in all my years of classes my professors have given clues as to what’s important to know by repeating things, writing them down, or even saying “THIS IS IMPORTANT.” If I’m still unsure then I’ll to their office hours. All my profs have really appreciated when I’ve gone in to discuss class material and have always been more than willing to help me out – plus it’s a great way for them to get to know me!