It’s back to school time and I wanted to share my master list of tips and tricks I’ve learned from being in college continuosuly for over 6 years! What can I say? I’m addicted to getting degrees…
A majority of my readers are over 26 and not in college. But I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t share todays post for those that are. After all, I have spent a long time getting my education. From an extra year at my undergraduate college to get an additional major, to starting a posct-bacculatete program, to then getting my Master’s degree – I’ve been in school for a long time.
It’s safe to say that I have learned quite a few tips and tricks to not only be organized, but also to study, balance work and school, and tackle some of the biggest challenges like group projects, feeling unmotivated, and keeping sane!
The Bijou Master List of College Tips….
1. If you can do this, please do this: don’t take out student loans. Apply for scholarships like crazy or do work study! I saved my parents and myself from having to pay for my undergraduate education simply from scholarships alone. I think I applied to maybe 70? Don’t stop applying.
2. Dedicate a homework space and go there every night. My favorite is the dining table and even in college, I liked to come home and work on my homework like I’ve done since high school, even if it wasn’t due until next week.
3. Color code assignments in a planner. I used this super helpful blog post that essentially taught me how to automate my homework and study schedule. Basically, print out your syllabus and schedule out assignments and study times. Use green, yellow, red, and purple highlighters to remind yourself about “having a green light” to study or a “red light” to signify it was due. It’s like driving school!
4. For the first week, screenshot your class schedules and set it as a wallpaper on your phone. Don’t know where to go? All you have to do is click the home button to view the screen. (Last semester it took me 3 weeks to figure out the classrooms – I would keep forgetting! haha)
5. Skip the multiple notebooks and just get one big one. Honestly saves money and time trying to switch out notebooks for different classes.
6. Speaking of notes, stop writing down things word for word. They are likely reading off the slides – print those out instead and next to each slide, paraphrase what the Professor just said. It’s more important to listen and understand than it is to write word for word.
7. But if you do have one of those professors that tests on word for word stuff, just record your class. I had to do this when I lost my vision for a while – it really helped when it came to test time and after listening to lectures over and over. Best medical school lecture recording tip too!
8. You absolutely do not need to buy new textbooks. Please for the love of your wallet, check your library or schools library program. They can ship books from other universities to you. I never paid for a single book in college – EVER. Just borrow them. Even ask the professor if they have an extra copy avaliable. Most will!
9. If paying attention to lectures is hard for you, force yourself to sit in front. You’ll be less distracted and less likely to look at your phone.
10. Please fuel and hydrate yourself when in school. Take a lunch break, drink some water (BPA FREE please), and don’t feel bad or ashamed if you get hungry. In graduate classes, we all brought our dinners with us.
11. Get to know your neighbor’s. One day you may miss a lecture and miss important updates. Buddy up with someone and exchange emails/phone numbers so you have a reliable informant in case you do miss class. Sometimes the professor won’t email updates so this is really important.
12. Keep safe please. Download the Police 5-0 app onto your phone. If you have a night class and/or ever feel unsafe walking to/from class, turn this app on and make sure someone else would be able to hear it.
What is it?
It’s a police scanner! Turn it on, hold it to your right shoulder like it’s a walkie talkie. Talk back to it if you need to. (I’ve said my shares of “10-4”) Use a wide stance, look around you like you’re watching/looking for someone carefully as you walk. It might be impersonation to a degree, but if you feel scared and you need to get out of a situation, a little trickery can go a long way. Just hearing those radio sounds may buy you time until you can get somewhere safely. This has worked.
13. I also carried a loud alarm button (just in case). Just press and it will sound off the loudest freaking alarm you’ve ever heard coming from a device no bigger than a quarter. Definitely helpful should you need to send a distress call.
14. Design your day. It’s no secret my planner of choice is Day Designer. Whilst in college (and up to today), I set 3 intentions for each day of the week and these planners are set up to help you streamline and organize efficiently. Paired with my syllabus trick, this was the best time management tool in my arsenal.
15. Spend as much time outdoors as you can during the semester. It’s important to take breaks and get moving. I loved walking around campus during the fall, in-between classes. Let’s face it, you’re most likely sitting in class all day, and that’s not good for you!
16. Before you ask your professor a question, check if the answer is in the syllabus.
18. Speaking of work, if you can, take on a few internships throughout your college years. It will pay off int he end! Experience is everything these days even if the focus is on the degree. I was able to do multiple internships in place of paid work experience.
19. This may sound a bit contrary to popular belief, but you don’t have to be involved in anything extra on campus. If anything, focus on exclusively doing internships and forget departmental clubs. They really don’t mean anything unless you’re applying for future degree programs in that academic niche. I was an Anthropology club member for years and it really didn’t matter at the end like I thought it would. #honestwasteoftime
20. Post graduate advice: the GRE sucks but more schools and not requiring it anymore. Where was that rule when I applied?? Anyways, that takes a lot of time to study for and the test is NOTHING like the prep books prepare you for.
21. Friends will come and go, what matters is you and the skills you learn while in school. College isn’t about parties, it’s about networking and forming relationships with people who will help you out once that degree is in your hands.
22. You’ll need letters of recommendations or job references so make friends with professors that you truly enjoy being in their class. Do well on tests and assignments, and don’t be afraid to chat with them about things. Be yourself. Raise your hand. If you know something, don’t hold it back.
One of my first professors offered to write me a letter the first day he met me – all because I was just being myself and told the class a medieval story I knew. He asked if the class knew and no one did. But I remembered it and recited it. 5 minutes later, I got the “That was neat. Let me know if you ever need a letter of recommendation”
(It was a History of Medieval England class)
23. For presents, ask for Starbucks gift cards to fuel your coffee needs during the semester! It’s so helpful because you don’t need to spend your own money on coffee and can study with the sweet smell of whatever you like from Starbucks.
24. Keep a storage bin for all current semester related paperwork and notes. I love these from Target because you can stack them neatly on your desk. Looking for last weeks notes? Don’t shove everything in a folder, just stack them up in this box and tuck it away. Nothing ruins study time and motivation like a messy desk.
25. College is wonderful and I wish you the best of luck wherever you are in your education journey. If you’re just starting out, or are like me and went to school for years (and are still going). you are doing a wonderful thing and investing in yourself! Please let me know how it goes for you.
Are you in school or getting ready to go back to school? What are you studying? What do you want to study? I’d love to hear from you and get to know more about your education! Thanks for checking out this post. Hope it was helpful