Studying Tips For A Successful First Semester

Studying Tips For A Successful First Semester

A simple road to better test scores.
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Let's face it, if you're a college student, quizzes, tests, and exams are unavoidable. If you've been lucky enough to make it to the end of September with none behind you, start preparing for the tsunami that could flood your life in the next few weeks. If you're anything like me, it's not the test itself that I worry about, it's the seemingly endless hours of preparation that act as a gut-wrenching precursor to any major test—otherwise known as studying. My freshman year was more challenging than it needed to be because I knew nothing about effective methods for studying. As I dive into my sophomore year, I'm leaving those mistakes in the dust. Let me share with you a few tips and tricks I have begun to use this semester that have proven to improve my study skills and ultimately boost my test scores!

Schedule a time to study. Just as you have classes that are scheduled for certain times and on certain days, it's important to set aside time to do nothing but study. Of course, it's always a great idea to try and squeeze in studying between your daily activities, such as work or practice, but if you don't make a time slot in your calendar for pure, uninterrupted studying, it won't be as beneficial as it could be. By the way, If you are a college student and don't utilize a calendar or day organizer, I judge you (and envy you—I wish my life had no schedule!). Stop telling yourself that you'll study at work or before going to sleep. Trust me, I know this from experience. Work will somehow get slammed or you'll fall asleep with flash cards on your forehead and a big fat F in front of your eyes when you get that test back.

Find an ideal, comfortable study space. Living my first few college years as a commuter, it's easy for me to find somewhere quiet to study where no one will bother me. It's wonderful. For those who live on campus, it can be next to impossible to find a place of solitude, safe from those friends who just can't get the hint that you have other things to do besides talk about what's for dinner in the caf and that attractive lad who just strolled by. If there's a silent floor at your school library, which happens to be the third floor at John Carroll, go there. Empty classrooms in academic buildings are also a possibility. Find a cozy spot, plop down, and get to work. Bring some snacks so you're not tempted to go on random walks to the vending machine later realizing you're on your fourth bag of Doritos. If you like to listen to music, I suggest some instrumental or classical music. This way, you're not distracted by belting out Taylor Swift lyrics or wiping the tears off of your cheeks listening to Drake. Spotify has an awesome variety of studying playlistscheck them out. Also, put your phone away. Make sure it's on silent. Reward yourself every 30 minutes or so with a five-minute phone break.

Practice a particular study method. Last year, I tried to re-read my notes over and over and considered that a satisfactory study method. I wasn't satisfied when I got my grade. This year, I believe flash cards are my golden ticket. Flash cards are as old as time, but can really help you ingrain that much-needed info into your brain for your next test, especially if you have to remember a lot of vocabulary or terminology. If you hate writing things out by hand, I strongly suggest https://quizlet.com/, where online flash cards are available for free. It's Eco-friendly too, so it's a win-win!

If a certain method works for you, don't hesitate to stick with it! There's no reason to stop doing something that's helping you. Maintaining similar study methods throughout the whole semester may become boring, but if it helps you on your first few tests, it will more than likely continue to do so. For example, for every PowerPoint we go through in my Anatomy class, I go back and create flash cards to cover all of the material. I make a hard copy set and a set on Quizlet, so I write and see that information many times. If you don't like consistency, maybe add on a few smaller studying methods to your successful base method to spice things up a bit.

Relax. Don't let the stress get the best of you. If you're putting in solid time and effort while studying, it's okay to take a Netflix break. If you maintain a steady schedule and methods of studying, there will be less to worry about when test time comes around. After a study session, do some yoga, take a hot shower, put some cucumbers over your eyelidswhatever you gotta do (that's legal and safe), do so.

Those are my simple and hopefully helpful study tips. Have a great fall semester!

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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34 Things I Should Have Brought To College At The Start Of Freshman Year, But Didn't

To the incoming freshman from the rising senior.
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Coming from a rising senior at the University of Dayton who has lived in an over-sized double dorm room, to a suite-style quad dorm room, to a house with virtually no storage space sharing an octagon-shaped single room (and single closet)... These are the random little things no one thinks to bring to college or put on these lists, but they will make your life on campus a million times better. I ended up buying these items long after I started college, and they were a big help. Don't make the same mistakes I did.

1. Shoe organizer

These are great for various items such as toiletries, snacks, and, of course, shoes.

2. Under-the-bed storage bins

During college, most of my storage has been under my bed, so this is a must.

3. Photos

To remember the happy times with your friends and family. Add to your collection over your college years.

4. String lights

Just to add a little something extra to your space. The dim light is totally relaxing.

5. Makeup wipes

For when you're too tired after going out to actually wash your face.

6. Extra sheets and towels

Trust me, you're not going to want to wash your sheets and towels right away so you can use them immediately. Bring back-ups.

7. Tide pods

These are awesome. Plus they smell heavenly.

8. Drunk dorm/microwaveable snacks

For when you come back after going out and the dining hall has already closed. Ordering Domino's or Jimmy John's night after night is NOT a cost-effective option.

9. Gatorade

For when you're too dead in the morning to walk down and get one from the dining hall.

10. Keurig and coffee

Just in case the dining hall runs out of coffee during finals week. Believe me, it can happen.

11. Chip clips

You will accumulate many of these from free vendors and events on campus, but somehow, they are no where to be found when you need one.

12. Paper towels / Clorox wipes

You can never have enough.

13. Rain boots

So you'll be able to make it to class on those rainy days without having to sit in soaking wet socks and shoes for 50 minutes (yikes). And you can jump in all the puddles you wish.

14. Alarm clock

If you're like me and could sleep the whole day if you didn't have an alarm, your phone alarm just doesn't cut it sometimes.

15. Back study pillow

Even if you don't think you will use it, you will end up wanting it.

16. Command strips

These are the only things that will stick to most dorm room walls.

17. Rug

Especially if your room has a cold tile floor instead of carpet.

18. Air mattress or sleeping bag

For your friends visiting you on campus, or if you ever go on a trip.

19. Disposable dishes

At least while you live in a dorm with a community sink.

20. Red solo cups

Because you don't want your morning-after milk or apple juice to taste like last night's $8 vodka.

21. Costumes/holiday wear

This is something I totally didn't even think about when I first came to school. Now I have an entire bin JUST for costumes and holiday decor.

22. Crazy daydrink clothes

If you have a few jerseys, you're set. If not, take a trip to the local goodwill with your squad and pick up a few things. The crazier, the better.

23. Towel wrap

If you're like me and just like to chill in your towel after you shower ( and a robe is too hot for you), these are a must. And they're super cute.

24. Wristlet/clutch/small purse

You won't want to lug around a large tote while you're out with friends or doing daily activities.

25. Comfortable heels

Don't let this be you!!!! I've been there, and nothing will ruin your night of dancing at the club like shoes that give you blisters and disable your walking by the end of the night.

26. Business casual and business professional clothes

And make sure you know the difference and when each is appropriate.

27. Water bottle

In college, your water bottle is your best friend. You never go anywhere without it, and it actually helps you to drink the amount of water you're supposed to drink each day (maybe).

28. Blender

If you're a fan of smoothies (or frozen margaritas) and want to make them at home for less.

29. Flashcards

Flashcards are a great way to study. If they're not for you, buy them anyway just in case you want to try them out. Or if anyone on your floor is desperate for them, they will be eternally grateful.

30. Mini fridge

When you're sharing a fridge with 3+ other people, things can get pretty tight. I recommend buying this with your roommates so you can share the extra space.

31. Calculator

Just in case you change your major and have to take math again (like me).

32. Thermometer

So you can know for sure whether or not you have a fever.

33. Drying rack

Because you're actually not supposed to put everything in the dryer, who knew?

34. Rubbing alcohol

Works wonders for getting those impossible Thursday night Xs off before your Friday 9 a.m.

These things have helped me make it through three years of college, especially freshman year. Hopefully, I have helped you prepare for your college years somehow. Good luck and have fun!!!

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Cover Image Credit: oregonstateuniversity / Flickr

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An Open Letter To My Youngest Self

From, the young adult finding comfort in the past while lost in the present.

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Dear future big person,

Speaking from experience, the world is a crazy place. It's sad, yet exciting to know what the future holds for you. The world has been taken over by devices and electronics most never thought were possible.

If you're wondering why I'm writing to you, it's because I care a lot more now than I did back when I was you. I'm your Marty McFly, here to tell you how to prepare for the future. (Don't ask me what that reference is –you figure it out!).

For starters, let's talk about this technology thing. Gameboys, Nintendo DS', Wiis, Xboxes –don't mess with them. Television is fine –if the people from the Cold War survived it, we can, too. I want you to spend time enjoying the real world, not the electronic, fake one.

I want you to go outside and sit in the grass, pick those dandelions and mash them up into "paint." Paint mom something nice and maybe go for a bike ride with dad. Catch lightning bugs at dusk and bottle them all up in a mason jar. Eventually, let them free, all together.

Your brother is gross and weird, but he actually turns out to be a pretty cool kid. You don't have to be all mushy with him, but be sure he knows you love him. After all, he is family.

Make friends in the neighborhood, even if they are boys. So what? Challenge them. Race them on your bike with awesome purple and white streamers drifting from the handlebars. Push hard, through the soles of your Sketchers covered feet.

Pick up a piece of chalk and create a world of your own world with 3,000 Toys R Us stores, one police station, and only a few stop signs. Create and color your own flowers, whether they actually exist or not. Let your imagination run wild!

Turn on the radio and dance like crazy! Scream the lyrics to Smashmouth's "All Star" and Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape." Change the station every now and then to hear something new; it's always interesting to see your reactions to these interesting creations.

I want you to wear what you feel like and don't care what the others say about you. If you want to wear your purple dress-up shoes with your matching purse and hat, then do it. If you want to wear a Hula skirt in the dead of winter, do it (but please bring some leggings so mom doesn't flip out). If you want to wear those bedazzled jeans, then rock 'em.

If you're wondering why I'm telling you to do these silly things, it's only because we lost these traits along the way. I don't want you to miss the experiences that only come from the natural world because you had your head stuck in a tablet; it will all pass you in the blink of an eye.

I don't want you to ever feel trapped inside your house, no matter the weather. There is always a way out.

Don't let other people stop you from getting something you want. Don't let them intimidate you or talk you out of something you are passionate about.

Your friends will be the people you escape to when the house seems inescapable. Treat them the way you would like to be treated.

Your imagination is one of the greatest gifts you'll ever have. It drives you –your hopes and dreams, your wishes in the fountain and your kisses to the dandelions. Don't ever stop chasing them.

Always, always do what you want to do. You sing karaoke to that super catchy song because you know you'll kill it. Wear what you want however you want because you know that you look good in some strange way. (As long as you're not naked, that is). Stubbornness is good.

Your family will always be your family. What they do affects you, and vice versa. Bring them good, positive news. They don't need any more trouble.

Stand up for yourself, for your friends and family, for your beliefs and wishes. Be proud of the work you do and the life you live. Many people around you wish they could have lived like you did.

Most importantly, do not let your past define your future. A lot of things will happen, some of which may or may not go horribly wrong. There is nothing you can do to stop these things, except hope. You can always change for the better as long as you don't look back. Be proud of your past, but be known for your future –whatever you want that to be.

Please, promise me these things. I can't stress enough how important it is for you to never lose these traits –hold them tightly and never release them. I can't tell you how this life is going to go, because that simply isn't the way this world works. Just breathe through it and listen to your gut –that's the future guiding you.

I, and many others, love you –your character, your curls, your studded jeans,your pink Power Ranger costume, your Hello Kitty backpack, and your goofy smile.

Don't ever forget that.

With love,

The Girl Who Is Lost And Trying To Turn Back Time.

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