#36 The Musts of Adapting to College (Mostly) Stress-Free 

Attending college is often described as a pivotal point in your life. It helps you discover the type of person you truly are and puts you on a career path for the rest of your life. Some of you are no longer living at home and sharing responsibilities with other people. Instead, you are an independent person directly responsible for every decision you make throughout your day.

Oftentimes students, including me, come to college and don’t realize the amount of work you have to do outside of academics. Simple tasks like making sure you eat healthy, exercise, and stay hygienic often slip past us. 

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So, how do you make sure that you are succeeding as a student while also succeeding as a person? The first thing is staying organized, and I don’t mean knowing where all of your belongings are—although that helps! When I was a high school student, I never saw the point of a daily planner or agenda book. They seemed almost pointless to me, a waste of space in my backpack. But now, I often say it’s the most important thing I have. With classes, homework, tests, clubs, and chores, it’s almost impossible to succeed at all your tasks for a semester without missing at least one important task. With a planner, not only do you maximize your time by having a plan for the day, but you’re able to look ahead and never miss anything you need to get done. It makes you look more mature and successful to others—and you’ll feel that way, too.

First-years tend to focus on—and stress about—taking college courses. Not knowing what they are like can be intimidating. Walking into my first classes ever at Arcadia was the same for me. As I sat down in the basement of Boyer Hall, my Chemistry professor explained what we needed to do to succeed. He said that every single day, you should study at least an hour for each class. Taking four classes, that adds up to 28 hours a week of just the minimum! So, is this true?

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From my experience taking classes and experimenting with different ways to study, I have devised a work schedule that maximizes my time. These strategies might not work for everyone, so take this with a grain of salt. The first thing that I do is read the textbook and take notes before the lecture. In college, the material is explained by the professor, but it is a fast pass that doesn’t always allow you to grasp a complete understanding of it. Reading the material beforehand allows you to understand what’s being presented and focus more on what the professor is saying instead of trying to write down everything. I find that doing this allows me to ask more questions, which leads to a better understanding of the material as well as keeps me on track for exams.

Next, I write index cards on all the information before exams. My peers consider this “old-fashioned” and question its effectiveness, but I have found writing index cards helps me retain information faster than typing it on a computer. You never have to worry about computer or internet issues, which will occur from time to time.

#34 Two Types Of Students During Finals

As the end of the semester comes to the end, students begin to travel home for the holidays and wait irritably for their final grades to be posted. Finals Week and the week before finals is one of the most, if not the most, stressful times of the year for students. It is packed with exams, papers, and presentations that must be completed in a short period. When talking to students of a University, you will come across two major types of people. The first is the student that finds finals week stressful yet manageable. They are often studying and doing a lot of work but, don’t find themselves exerting themselves to the point it is painful. The second student you will come across is the student that is swamped with work. They are up early in the morning as well as up late at night. They are only getting a couple of hours of sleep and depending on caffeine to keep themselves going. These two people can have the same work and classes but, they managed their time and schedule differently.

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Organization and time management are something that I preach on this blog. Without it, in college, you will often become the second person that is rushing to just finish their work. During finals week being organized and having good time management skills is the most vital thing to do. Final exams, presentations, and projects make up for a majority of your grade so it is important to do well on them. The most a final has counted for me was 35%.

One of the hardest finals you can have is a cumulative final. These tests are composed of the entire year’s materials and are the hardest to study for. For this reason, it is important to start studying early and keep good notes. Making study guides, keeping flashcards, and keeping all notes will all be advantageous for you to do well on the final exam.

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So, how long before a final exam should you study for? This question is a very common one and many people think that there is no answer. However, the answer I would give to this is as soon as possible. There is no reason you should be putting off studying for a final exam if you have the time. It may seem annoying and unnecessary but, it is better to slowly learn the information than try and flood your brain days before the test. Pushing off studying for an exam can lead to you turning into a person dependent on coffee.

Attached below is an example of a day of studying for a final exam during finals week

TimeActivity
7am-8amWake Up and Breakfast
8am-11amStudying in the library (break every 30 mins)
11am-12pmLunch
12pm-3:30pmStudying in the library (break every 30 mins)
3:30pm-4:30pmWorkout
4:30pm-6pmDinner/ Watch TV
6pm-9pmStudy in room (break every 30 mins)
9pm-11pmRelax/ Errands/ Sleep
Normal Day of Finals With No Test (9.5 hours of studying, 6.5 hours of Relaxing)

As seen above, my schedule is extremely busy during finals week. The majority of my day is consumed by studying but, I make room for relaxing and taking breaks from my hard work. Below is an example of the second student that waited until the last minute to study.

TimeActivity
9am-9:30amWake Up and Breakfast
9:30am-12pmStudy
12pm-12:30pmLunch
12:30pm-5:30pmStudy
5:30-6pmDinner
6pm-12am (possibly later)Study (random breaks) and sleep
Normal Day of Finals With No Tests (13.5 hours of studying, 1.5 hours of relaxing)

As seen here, waiting for the last minute to study will result in burning out from studying for way longer than you should. You are also met with no relaxation. This is my warning to any student out there entering or in college. Do not wait until the last minute to study. Be proactive instead of reactive.