Posts Tagged ‘study tips’

Having Good Study Habits, Naturally

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Whether you’re just out of your freshman year or you’ve already been through a few years of college, school is nothing new to you. We’ve all been doing it for as long as we can remember, and that is both a blessing and a curse. With our deeply ingrained study habits comes the feeling that they can be impossible to improve this late in the game. Our habits define who we are as students: some of us do schoolwork the moment it’s assigned while some of us save it until the day of, some of us stress about retaining knowledge while some of us stress only about grades, and some of us don’t stress at all. Some of us–most of us–lie somewhere in the middle of each spectrum, pushing ourselves to work harder and smarter but falling just short of our goals. If you’re like me and you want to make working hard feel effortless, a few simple changes will make organizing your academic life seem infinitely more manageable.

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To improve your study habits, you need to first improve yourself. It’s hard to quickly churn out that essay or cram for that test if you aren’t accustomed to pushing your limits, and it’s even harder to plan your work in advance if you aren’t accustomed to planning your life. Here are some quick and easy improvements to your daily life that will make effective study habits come more easily.

Set weekly personal resolutions (realistic ones!) and actually stick to them. These improvements to your life can take on any form, from eating better to saving money to spending more time outside. Tell yourself that you can keep up anything for a week, and when you actually do, you’ll have much more confidence in your ability to adhere to your own principles. I recommend making some of the examples below into weekly resolutions to improve your ability to work hard and plan ahead.

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Become the kind of person who plans fun things in advance. This is the best way to make planning everything, even your work schedule, feel more natural. If you have a calendar app on your phone, use it. If not, invest in a small planner that you update at the end of every day. If your friend asks you to lunch on Wednesday, write it down, and soon enough putting due dates of assignments on your calendar will feel just as normal. Not only will you have a scheduling system that you’re used to, but you’ll be able to visualize how much of your time is already planned and manage your studying accordingly.

Don’t be late to anything. Be that one friend who’s fifteen minutes early to meet up, and be proud of it! If you try to be on time, you’ll have a better understanding of how long it takes you to get ready in the morning and how long it takes to travel around in your college environment–which is likely different from that of your hometown. If you make punctuality a priority in every sphere of your life, your schedule will become sacred. It will be hard to start assignments later than planned if you make yourself the kind of person who is concerned with time and how you use it.

Make exercising your brain a fun and regular part of your day. There are so many little things that you can do to make yourself smarter, and when you do them for yourself you’ll feel a sense of personal accomplishment greater than any that can come from schoolwork. I recommend that you try to read for pleasure a little bit every day, tackle sudoku or a crossword puzzle, memorize lists, or even just watch “Jeopardy!” when you can. You’ll feel smarter, and feeling smarter is great motivation for working hard. If you can make yourself appreciate learning, your assignments will feel less boring and more personally valuable.

It’s easy to feel hopeless in school when you lose sight of the fact that it’s never too late to improve. Nothing is set in stone–these changes will make you a better person and a better student. Remember: you can do anything for a week! And if you can do anything for a week, maybe you can do anything for another week after that.


By Madeleine Fleming

Madeleine Fleming is a Campus Clipper publishing intern and a rising sophomore at NYU.  A lover of reading, writing, and learning in every way possible, Madeleine is excited to be writing about college study habits for the Campus Clipper. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services. 

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

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How to Get Through Your Reading Assignment

Monday, March 7th, 2011

image credit: stage30.scholastic.com

Another reading assignment. Boring as hell, worse than the one you have just finished the day before. It took you three weeks to complete the previous novel, and you feel that the book wasn’t worth spending time on it. Ok, it is not an exciting detective story that makes you rush towards the end anticipating who committed the crime. It is not a fluffy love story about two people who finally found each other and will be happy forever, either. However, you still have to read it, as your grade and the content of your essays depend on it. No matter how expensive the food is and whether or not the supermarket you shop at has student savings deals, you still have to eat. Similarly, you still need to read novels you are assigned, no matter how intimidating and useless they seem to you. Here are some tips that may help you get through the assignment:

1. Don’t be seduced by cliff notes. They will kill the reading process for you. Why bother going through every page if you already know what happened? The only time you are allowed to use cliff notes is when you have only one day before the final on the book and you have no idea what happened. This way, you’ll at least, have a slightest clue. Otherwise, read it, and you’ll definitely find something (there has to be) interesting for you, whether the style, or the language, or maybe, even plot.

2. Learn a little bit about the author first. It helps when reading the book, and this is the reason why many professors give a lecture on authors’  biographies and tell students what literary movements they belonged to. Knowing details about the author allows you to fill the book with an additional meaning.

First thing that is important here is the time when the author lived. It restores the atmosphere of the century. There may have been different moods and goals in the United States 200 years ago as compared to now. What was going on in history at the time may be implied in the text, so the plot is not only a story of Mister Smith and Miss Evans (or anyone other), but it is a relationship that took place in certain surroundings under particular historical circumstances. For instance, such a simple plot as “two people love each other, but the man is married” may have a happy ending if the married man gets a divorce (if action takes place in the 21 st century), or an unhappy ending because his wife may sue him for unfaithfulness and leave him bankrupt. If the events occur at the time when divorce was a sin and the only way one could get out of marriage was the spouse’s death, then it’s a comletely different story and different struggle. You get the point.

Secondly, it helps to learn what the author’s personal experience was. Writers often use the stories they lived through or observed for their pieces. Pondering about what really happened and what the novelist imagined may be a thrilling puzzle for you to solve, so try to get all the information your time and resources allow you to gather. This includes the author’s family, upbringing, jobs, romances, etc. The more you know, the better the reading will seem to you.

Third, literary influences and movements reveal a lot about an author. If you research on what writers he or she admired and who was the novelist’s mentor, you will clearly see where the style and ideas of the book are coming from. Belonging to a literary movement often explains “why this book is so weird,” and accordingly, you will appreciate the piece of fiction more if you find how the ideology of the movement came alive in your assigned writer’s work.

Remember that all this information and also the interpretation of the book can be found in articles written by critics. Therefore, it is useful to read those, too.

3. Imagine that the situation described in the book happened to someone you know. Some books, unlike other ones, don’t need any context or a setting. Most classical stories are relevant for any generation because they can apply to anyone at any country at any given time period. What would you suggest the characters do if they were your acquaintances? Using your imagination spices up the process of reading, and it’s a completely free and available tool waiting to be exploited.

4. Discuss the book with other students. In the same conversation they share their information about new student discounts local restaurants offer, they may give you a hint that regards your reading. If you don’t understand some words, or a character’s behavior, or the idea of the book, ask your peers. They may be more knowledgeable than you are, and they may even relieve you of doing research on your own if you ask the right questions and they know the right answers. Note that if they tell you something about the author that you didn’t know, clarify where they got that information from. If they say that they “think so,” you shouldn’t use it in your essay as a stated fact. If they give you a particular source, make sure to check it out before you use it in your classwork. This way you won’t steal their idea completely and may get a different interpretation of the text, not mentioning that next day you will have a lot more to discuss.

By the way, you can also ask your professors about anything that is unclear. The majority of them are always willing to give explanations or to share their knowledge. Doing this is a brilliant strategy: the professors will be happy that you are interested in the subject they are teaching and you will get a lot of material for your essays and class discussions.

Even though all this may appear overwhelming when you take into consideration how many other homework assignments you have to do, but think about it in the long run: once you gather information necessary, you won’t have to work so hard on it anymore. You will know where to get the ideas and sources for your essay, you will be more interested in the book itself and you are likely to get a good grade for your class (sometimes professors give you an “A” just for doing all this extra work not required by the course, for trying hard, even if your knowledge is not profound enough for the excellent grade). And of course, the more you read, the better your writing gets. Sometimes you don’t notice it, but you pick up grammatical structures and new vocabulary from the literature you read. The novels that you are assigned may not be the most exciting thing you’ve ever come across, but they are well-written and meaningul; otherwise, why would your professor pick them for the class?

The moral is: if something is unknown, it is always scary, so learn a lot about the “boring” assignment you are given, and watch you fear disappearing and your confidence boosting. College years are the time to challenge yourself, overcome the difficulties and grow to find a likable aspect in any work that you loathe.

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at http://nycvalues.blogspot.com.

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