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Thursday, April 10, 2014

7 Tips for Surviving College

Guest post written by Daniel Oon Wei Rhen

College can be incredibly stressful at times. This is especially true during exam periods and as deadlines for assignments and projects draw near. Here are 7 ways to help make these stressful periods more manageable.

1. Don’t stress out!
I know this is easier said than done but stressing out about stuff would not make things easier and all it does is it sucks the fun out of your studies, which makes it even harder to find the motivation to study.
Stressed College Student

2. Prioritize
It can be overwhelming having to deal with multiple assignments and exams all at once. When one is in such a situation, it is generally a good idea to try tackling the more difficult tasks. Why? Because the more demanding tasks require a lot more concentration and effort, and hence, by hunkering down and hacking away at challenging tasks first, we are able to achieve more. We tend to be more motivated and mentally fresh in the beginning of the day, and as the day draws on, we get tired and lose our mental concentration. If we were to tackle the easier ones first, then we lose momentum by the time we get to the more difficult tasks.
Prioritize: First Thing First

3. Set daily targets
Setting a reasonable target for each class AND writing it down goes a long way in keeping you motivated. Study the syllabus carefully and try to get a good idea of what is expected of you for each class. Talk to the professor in the beginning of the semester to get a ‘feel’ for the class. Writing goals down is important because it makes the goals tangible. As humans, we forget easily. Writing goals down and placing it where you can see them every morning before you head to class helps you to stay focus throughout the semester.
Set Daily Targets

4. Count your losses
If things get to the point where you have to choose between tasks, then you have to pick the more important task and abandon the rest. Part of being human is that we can’t always achieve every single thing we want to. For example, say, I have to finish a problem set for my Mechanics class that is due 8am the following day and I have to submit a paper due at the same time. The Mechanics problem set, however, would only account for less than 5% of my final grade while the paper would account for 35% of my final grade. In this instance, I would have to forgo my problem set and use my remaining time to work on my paper. This advice applies to your working life as well. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we have to make a decision on the spot. The right decision is not always perfect but it is the one with minimal losses.

5. Go to office hours
Try to read your lecture notes before each class and if you find yourself confused about the material even after sitting in on the lecture and re-reading some of your notes, then it is crucial for you to get help as soon as possible. Do not wait until a couple of days before a big exam. And do not feel too proud to ask for help. Professors are there to facilitate the learning process.

6. Stay motivated
How? By constantly asking yourself why getting a good grade in a particular class is important to you. Try to go beyond generic answers like “I need to pass this class in order to graduate”. Search deep and really ask yourself what you want to get out of a particular class and how will the materials learned in said class help you in attaining some of your long-term goals. Attaching meaning to a seemingly boring and abstruse class can do wonders in motivating you to ace the class.

Stay Calm College Student Tips

7. Stay calm
What do you do when you are on the verge of having a mental breakdown? When you find yourself in such a situation, you need to find some quiet time to unwind and take a step back from everything and just relax. Meditate, pray; get more sleep…find whatever works for you. Personally, I find that picturing myself lying in a hammock on a beach on a deserted island helps me relax.

Remember, if you do your best and still don’t do as well as you expected, know that it is ok. It is not the end of the world. You will survive this. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Assess your mistakes and move on.

Daniel is a first-year student at Curtin Sarawak who has a penchant for all things related to Sociology, Government and Analytical Philosophy. He spent two years in a boarding school in India and four years in America. Daniel has traveled widely and is always down for a spontaneous trip to an obscure part of the world. He loves cooking and treasures the company of good friends. Daniel enjoys writing and has contributed to The Pencil Box, a community of high performing college students who are interested in spending their time away from classes to develop world-changing ideas.
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1 comment:

  1. I really hope that many college students could read this article. This would be a great help for them. It is undeniable, but not anymore surprising, that some college and university students drop out or spend some time off from school simply because they feel they could not survive four or more years of academic pressure. While their efforts for coping with the stress and voracity of college life are laudable, they might not be enough. Yes, college and university life might be a survival of the fittest, but at least, students should be mentally and emotionally prepared to hurdle the challenges in this period of their lives.


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