1. Keep up with the readings, lectures, and assignments. Think of school as a race. If you rest, you end up being behind. But if you know how to pace yourself, you can end up at the desired goal. Even better is if you are ahead, you won’t have to worry. Sometimes, sacrificing social life or extracurricular activities is a must. The key is to never be behind, because when you are, you will find yourself having to work so much harder and still not get a grade any better than a student who kept up and didn’t work as hard.
2. Go to the first day of class. I find it ignorant when people skip the first day of class because they think it is not important. I understand that usually the first day is just the professor repeating what is on a course syllabus and then we are dismissed. The goal of the first day of class is to get a sense of what the teacher is like (teaching style, tone of voice (easy to understand or not), personality) to decide if we want to stay in the course, to determine a game plan, and if it is worth coming back to next class. By being there, we hear the professor empathize key points of the syllabus and also hear things that are not on the syllabus. This helps you set a game plan. For example, the professor might give us a heads up that the last chapter or topic may not be tested depending on the pacing of the course (this is not written or mentioned on the syllabus). Right at this very moment, we are already ahead of the students who are not there on the first day of class, because they don’t know what to really expect. They might even study the last chapter or worry about it cause they didn’t even know that it is possibly not tested. In fact, I find myself valuing the first day of class over the main lectures for reasons that it helps me set my game.
3. Have a game plan. Speaking of planning, it is very important to set up your schedules so that you can get your readings, lectures or assignments done on time. For example, I often find assignments getting in the way of my readings and preparation for exam. We’re more likely to procrastinate working on an assignment because of it’s longer due date, but this affects us by conflicting with our time when we need to be spending it on studying. Instead, if you have a game plan to get the assignment out of the way as early as possible, there will be less pressure for you to ace an exam.
4. See the professors or teaching assistant frequently. Are you really serious about being at school and making a career out of what you do? If you are, then you better be talking to your professors or the teaching assistance. These are the people you need to connect with if you want them to tell you about opportunities or write you a reference letter. One of my professor whom I was really close to said she will refuse to write a reference letter for someone who she doesn’t know well, because she will be honest about not actually knowing much about this student. You want a reference letter that says a lot about you and really shows and seems to be coming genuinely from someone. Imagine a reference letter that says this student is the top student in this class vs a reference letter that says this student is a top student in this class on top of he/she puts a lot of effort into learning the materials, always come to my office hour always ask thought provoking questions and always take initiatives to get involved. The second one is much better, because it says more about you and your work ethics. It’s important to build connection with a professor or teaching assistance because it’s all about having a well-rounded game.
5. Space out your studying. I find it easier when we study for like an hour or two and then rest for 10 minutes than just cramming everything into a one long 3 or 4 hour session. Spacing out your studies give your brain time to process what you are learning and refuels your energy to absorb new materials. Furthermore, studies have supported that spacing out studying time helps you get a higher grade because you remember better. Furthermore, it is important to sleep when you can cause you learn while sleeping and sleeping helps your brain recover.
6. Say no to distractions. Distractions is the enemy to our focus and cause of procrastination. If someone asks you to do something when you have exams, then you may have to just say no. If you have other things to do before exam, then you may have to make cancelled plans. You may feel bad about it at first, but it is okay.