With the 2016-17 school year right around the corner, collegiate SWE members share their must have study tools for the academic year.
7 Habits Weekly Planner
If you haven’t read the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey yet, I highly recommend it. This weekly planner is inspired by the book and is great way to go beyond the Google Calendar in planning your week. It emphasizes tasks aimed at your long term goals by including goals and priorities for each of your “roles” (ie: classes, extracurricular, interpersonal). Not only has this planner helped me become a more productive and efficient studier, but it has also helped me be more productive outside the classroom.
Alpha Wave Study Music
I’m not usually a fan of listening to music while doing work, but this background music is a great for long study sessions. I find myself much more focused when I get rid of everything but the music and my study materials. I usually set a study goal that I want to finish by the end of the song and then take a short break after I finish that goal.
Especially for high school and early college level classes, Kahn Academy can be a lifesaver. The videos are easy to understand and go over a wide variety of examples. While this isn’t a replacement for textbooks or class notes, I highly recommend it for those struggling with a concept and need a new perspective.
Practice/Past Exams and Study Buddies
The tools I mentioned are all extremely helpful, but what has single handedly helped me succeed the most in my college classes has been study groups and practice exams. This is the best way to actively practice, truly test your knowledge, and find gaps in your comprehension before an exam.
I don’t think I could survive college without writing in my planner. I am one of those people that writes everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) down in my planner. Whether it’s the coffee date with a friend, the club meeting on a Tuesday night, or the big assignment due at the end of the week, if I need to be there, it will be in my planner. For me, the act of writing helps commit the task to memory. I am a fan of paper planners, but I also keep my Google Calendar up to date. I like that my Google Calendar can send me notifications on my phone, email, and computer. I tend to write assignments (and other day-to-day tasks) in my planner and then use Google Calendar for larger events (class schedule, holidays, vacations). I have found a system that works for me, but it took me a couple of semesters to get it just right.
Another tip is go to office hours. Everybody tells you to do this and everybody knows that you should do this, but not everybody actually does. More times than not I am the only person in office hours, which means something that is provided to the entire class just became a private tutoring session. Sometimes professors can seem scary or mean or intimidating when they speak in front of a class, but I have found that they are completely different people in their office. They are much more willing to help and explain things for the second (or third or fourth) time in front of just one person as opposed to the entire class. Professors have a wealth of knowledge in their subject area, but also in how to navigate college. You never know when one conversation from office hours will turn into a couple extra points on an exam, a summer research position, or even an internship. Getting to know the people you are learning from can provide many different opportunities.