For those of you who do not know, I am starting my third degree this year. Next week, to be precise.
That’s not even close to being 10% as impressive as it sounds because I have dropped out of two different degrees in the past three years, so it’s not as if I’m qualified to do anything professionally.
This is going to be my fifth semester of university, and in each of these semesters I have taken strikingly different approaches to preparation and methods of study.
We’ll start with 2012.
- Buy four 250 page notepads.
- Buy 4 highlights to match the colour of said notepads.
- Buy a pack of 20 coloured pens in the hope that maybe four of them match the highlighters and the notepads.
- Buy a pack of 50 black pens.
- Buy a pack of post-it notes in different colours to co-ordinate with everything else.
- Buy glue, blu-tac, a rule, an organiser, a wall planner and a printer.
- Attend classes for the first eight or so weeks.
- Meet and start dating a boy who lives 2 hours away.
- Attend one class a week, and then no classes a week. Type up the answers to the study aids in your text books.
- Never read over the study aids from your textbooks.
- Do exams on a maximum of 5 hours sleep, go home and vow to study.
- Actually watch Gossip Girl.
- Buy looseleaf paper and two folders.
- Buy colour coded dividers for the bigger of the two folders to make organisation easier.
- Buy a tonne of plastic sleeves because fuck the environment.
- Buy 50 more black pens.
- Buy more highlighters.
- Buy more stuff that you know you do not need but think would look cute on your desk or wall anyway.
- Make a timetable for all your classes for the whole semester and challenge yourself to go to at least 90% of them.
- Start off taking 4 pages of notes per class every week.
- Get the flu and fall behind.
- Realise how content-heavy your subjects are and just start printing lecture slides.
- Give up on two of your subjects because you plan on dropping out of that half of your dual degree.
- Do your exams on 3 hours of sleep or less.
- Go home and vow to study harder for the next one.
- Actually watch Pretty Little Liars.
As you can see, first year didn’t really work out for me. My cumulative GP was 5.5, which is good. It’s not great, though. And it only really went down hill in second year when everything turned into science and I wanted to throw myself off the mountain that my university is situated on.
My second year was very similar to the second semester of first year, in that I gave up half way through and studied about as much as I slept, which was very little.
This year I have decided to not spend all my money on stationery that I know deep down that I will not use. I have also timetabled the hours I need to be at Uni and also at work.
I have recently gotten a second job, which means I will be working approximately 35 hours a week, as well as clocking 40 hours of university related study time, 10 hours of hockey and fitness and oh wow. Do I even have enough time to do all of this?
If there are 168 hours in a week, and I am studying for 40, that leaves 128 hours. Take the 35 hours that I will be working away and that leave 93 hours. Minus ten hours for fitness leaves 83. Sleeping 8 hours a night every night leaves me with 27 hours. Travel to and from uni, work and hockey adds up to 12 hours, leaving me with 15 hours of spare time over the next semester. Wow.
This semester I will do the following:
Monday: Get up at 6am. Get the 7:45am bus to university. Attend classes and study from 9am -5pm. Catch the 5:30 bus home. Make dinner. Shower. Study for 2 hours. Sleep at 10. Study Hours = 10
Tuesday: Get up at 6am. Leave for work at 7:30. Work from 8am to 1pm. Get home at 2pm. Have lunch, have a shower. Study from 3 to 5. Work from 6:30 to 9pm. Drive home. Have another shower. Sleep at 10. Study Hours = 2
Wednesday: Get up at 6am. Leave for work at 7:30. Work from 8am to 1pm. Drive to the bus station. Get to Uni at 3. Study/classes from 3 – 5. Get home at 6. Hockey Training from 6:30 – 8:30. Get home at 9pm. Shower, dinner, bed by 10. Study Hours = 2
Thursday: Get up at 6am. Get the 7:45am bus. Attend classes and study from 9am – 6pm. Catch bus to work. Work from 6:30 to 9pm. Catch bus back home. Shower, and bed by 10. Study Hours = 9
Friday: Get up at 6am. Leave for work at 7:30. Work from 8am – 1pm. Get home at 2pm. Shower and lunch. Study from 3 – 9pm, including dinner. Bed by 10. Study Hours = 6
Saturday: Get up at 6am. Study from 8am – 11am. Go to Hockey for 2 – 4 hours. Get home at 4pm. Shower and have lunch. Leave for work at 6. Work from 6:30 – 10. Get home at 10:30. Bed by 11. Study hours = 3
Sunday: Get up at 6am. Leave for work at 7:30. Work from 8am – 1pm. Get home at 2pm. Shower and lunch. Study from 3 – 9pm. Bed by 10. Study hours = 6.
Total Study Hours = 38
Total Work Hours = 28.5
So, my calculations were slightly off, and I got tired just thinking about how much stuff I am going to be doing over the next five months, but it’s exciting because I have moved into a new age with my stationery this semester.
Instead of lugging around 500 pages of notes in a folder at all times. Instead of lugging around 4 notebooks and 4000 tonnes of pens at all times.
I have bought an iPad and an iMac so that I can study on the go, which will be necessary, and so that everything can be sent between devices if I need them to be, which I will.
I don’t have a lot of good advice for how to make sure you maintain your first few weeks (days) of optimism and enthusiasm, but I do know that sleep is great for you, and eight hours a night is going to be your new best friend. Also, wake up with cold showers because they’re all sorts of evil, and that way even if your day doesn’t go as well as you planned, or goes off schedule, at least you can relax knowing that it’s not 6am and you’re not in an icy cold shower.
Planning out assignments isn’t my greatest skill, but start it early enough and it’ll be okay. I picked out the topics for my assignment weeks in advance, and that way it was always in the back of my mind while I was doing my required readings. That way, when it came time for me to write the essay (11pm the night before it was due), I actually had a lot more of the information that was relevant to it stored up in my head.
So, I guess my five tips for getting through Uni on the skin of your teeth would be:
- Always get enough sleep.
- Find a study method that works for you and stick to it.
- Actually attend class unless you are dying. University is the second greatest place to boost your immune system.
- Do your readings and start assignments when you get given them.
- Use your spare time to do things totally unrelated to uni that you love.
I guess that’s it. Good luck if you’re starting university soon, and happy learning!