I've been a lurker for quite a while here, though I've only now had something worth posting. Given that a large portion of users on here are students, I thought there might be interest in a topic like this. It's nearly the beginning of a new semester for most American colleges, so I'd like to ask for any tips, tricks, and hacks to get us started.
Here are some of mine:
- Every semester, make it your goal to get to know at least one or two professors well. Try really hard in those classes, without being a blatant suck-up. Why do this? Aside from probably boosting your GPA, forming relationships with professors is great for your future. These are going to be the people you want to know when you need references for an entry-level job or grad school. Also, most professors are actually really cool once you get to know them, and if they teach something related to your major, you'll be seeing them around the department a lot. And if you do get a recommendation from somebody, don't forget to thank them. In person is preferred, but through email works too.
- Get a calendar/planner. Write down everything. Every due date, test date, etc. needs to go down in that thing. I know most people would rather use digital than have to write everything down/lug it around, but being able to just flip to a page and jot something down on the fly is so much simpler. You get to have everything in one place, and never worry about "Oh shit, when is that assignment due?"
- Get a copy of the syllabus for each of your classes, and keep it in a folder/binder somewhere until grades are released for that class. Aside from being nice to have and reference, a syllabus is essentially a contract between a professor and his/her students. This is great in the event of a dispute or if something goes wrong with your grades. Being able to point at something that the professor wrote and tell them "on the syllabus, it says that X test was only supposed to cover material from chapters Y through Z," etc. might make a needed difference in your grade. It stops you from getting screwed over by professors and TAs with inconsistent grading policies.
- On that note, BE RESPECTFUL TO EVERYONE YOU MEET. Everyone. Your roommate, your professor, your TA, the secretaries, custodial staff, everyone. Colleges are funny things, especially small schools where everyone knows everyone. I cannot count the number of times that being polite and respectful has helped me out. This ranges from a TA allowing me to make up a discussion section, to a secretary (and later, the department head) helping me find a textbook alternative. People will sometimes go out of their ways for you just because they, (like 99% of all people who deal with the public) are sick to death of entitled jerks who barge in, demand something, and throw a hissy fit when they don't get it quick enough.
- Study in a group. It's easier to study in a group, because when you don't know something, there are (hopefully) at least a couple of people there who do know it and can explain it to you. If you are the one doing the explaining, even better: teaching it to others reinforces it more strongly in your mind as well.
- When you have to read something over and over again, try to do so in a different place each time (i.e. at your desk, on your bed, in a friend's room, at the library). Doing so creates more neural pathways associated with the memory of what you read, and makes it easier to remember.[citation_needed]
- Chew gum. I've never done this myself, but apparently if you always chew the same type of gum when studying, and then chew it again during a test, the scent memory improves your recall.[citation_needed]
Hope this helps!
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