It feels as if it was yesterday when we welcomed the New Year and yet we are now well into July and that means a new or another semester at university is about to commence. Some students may have received their Semester 1 results, others will receive them in the coming days, and although Semester 2 may not be starting for another month for some, there may be a few things you want to improve on for this semester.
There are probably a number of emotions floating around for those returning to university, and more importantly for those who are about to start their degrees. New students might be feeling excited and enthusiastic at the prospect of new adventures, making new friends and learning new topics. Other students might be nervous at the thought of starting something new, or perhaps even terrified. However, I would like to say that any emotions and feelings you might be experiencing are completely normal. Returning students, you may be happy, excited and enthusiastic also. At least I hope my students who are returning to campus are. However, there will be those who are not excited, and probably drained at the thought of another semester of study, exams and results that they wish could be better.
I have been one of those students who would often be nervous and excited at the same time. I acknowledge that I am a nerd and always slightly too excited when it comes to ‘going back to uni’ - however, I feel there is much I can share with everyone to get you university ready. Whether you are about to embark on an entirely new chapter of your life or, just returning to continue with your current chapter, this post should give you a few tips and tricks that I found helpful through my personal experiences.
Personally, I take a holistic approach to study and that means I go beyond good study habits to assist in my learning. But firstly, let us start off with some basics.
# 1 Purchase
My biggest recommendation when preparing for a new semester is making sure you buy your textbooks early, well once your subject guide or textbook list is released. When those crisp textbooks are on your desk it finally sinks in that a new semester is right around the corner.
Whilst you’re making your textbook purchase, get yourself new highlighters and rollerball pens so your note-taking and highlighting is smooth and fresh.
# 2 Plan
After making your purchase, you need to look at your weekly expectations and study load so you can plan your time and the best way to plan is have a calendar or weekly planner (diary). Planning your time can be difficult, especially if you don’t have your timetable. So the best thing to do in that situation is roughly outline when you can set aside study time in blocks of one hour or 90minutes (we’ll get to the reasoning for that a little later).
When planning your time you also need to factor in work and how many hours you think will be manageable. Sometimes this is done through trial and error, and for those returning to for another semester at university, you may have felt that you could have managed your work schedule slightly better.
# 3 Prepare
Create your study space. Make sure you have a designated study spot that is clean, organised and tidy. You also need to factor in the space you might need depending on your degree. Law students, you will need additional desk space as you will have two or three textbooks open at any one point with your notebook and/or laptop. Also factor in whether you will be sharing your study space with others, such as siblings (something I wouldn’t recommend).
Ideally, your study space shouldn't feel small. It needs to have natural light, or at least good light. Studying under a dim lamp is not something I would recommend.
# 4 OPTIONAL = start
For those who are nervous or indifferent about your new subjects, start reading the textbooks, especially the introductory chapters - it will ease the nerves and get you comfortable with some of the terminology.
# 5 Take breaks
As I mentioned above, study blocks should not really exceed one hour or 90 minutes max. This is because your attention, capacity to learn and ability to retain information starts to diminish. So my recommendation when you are planning your time, is to factor in regular breaks between 10 minutes to one hour depending on the time of day and your eating habits. During these breaks it is crucial you physically remove yourself from your study space, head outside, get some fresh air, eat a meal or meditate. When your body can refresh itself, your ability to learn and maintain productivity whilst studying is increased.
Hopefully, you have found a couple of these tips helpful. Stay tuned for my next blog.