There is one major difference that I have noticed between my 1st year at Whitman and my 2nd, and that is that so far in my 2nd year, I have not once stayed up late studying for a test or doing homework past 11pm. Upon recently realizing this, I asked myself, “did my classes get easier? Am I doing fewer things on campus?” The answer to these questions is no; these things did not change. What did change, though, are my study skills. Here is a list of my four favorite study skills that have allowed 2nd year Sarah to get a lot more sleep.
- Time Management
About a week ago, the battery in my watch stopped and I had to go an entire 4 hours in the morning with no watch on my wrist before I replaced the battery; during those 4 hours, I checked my watch (well, technically just my wrist) 12 times, each time forgetting that I was not currently wearing a functioning watch. The reason for this? I’m a time managing maniac. I am more likely to know what time it is than to know what clothes I’m currently wearing. This has gotten me so far in my academic career because it allows me to plan out every single hour of each day, down to the minute. I think the biggest piece of advice I can give about how to use you time is to use all of it. A frequent comment I hear among students is “I’d rather have all my classes in a row, because if I have 1 hour gaps between them, I can’t get anything significant done in that time.” I used to agree with this to an extent, until 30 minute or 1 hour gaps started appearing in my class schedule. Now, I have the opportunity to play a new game I invented for myself; it’s called “How much Greek can Sarah translate in 47 minutes.” This is my new favorite game as of late, with Billiards as a close second. Time flies, so learn to catch it.
- Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Though the human brain is arguably the most impressive thing in the world, we must remember that it is lacking in the retainment realm. Our brains can take in information quite easily, but retaining that information is a whole other ball game. A popular method of “studying” for tests seems to be what is called “cramming,” a time consuming and stressful phenomenon which quickly becomes unhelpful in the long run. Instead of cramming information into fleeting short term memory, go over a small chunk of information once every day in order to solidify it in your long term memory. You know you’re going to have a history test coming up in a couple weeks? Read through your notes one time every day up until the test. There’s a Latin vocabulary quiz at the end of the week? Go through your flashcards daily instead of waiting until the night before to learn them all. Learning little by little through repetition will allow you to learn the material thoroughly and with seemingly little effort. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and you’ll never have to cram again.
- Paper Planning
Though writing papers will forever cause some amount of stress for me, that amount has significantly decreased since I began implementing my new paper writing method. For me, the biggest hill to climb in writing a paper is thinking of what to write about. Once I come up with my thesis and some basic evidence, it all goes downhill. And, since hills are easier to climb at a pace that is slow and allows time for breaks, I make my hill not so steep by spreading out my paper writing process over at least a week. Let’s say I have a paper due next Monday; the first thing I would do is use this current Monday to think of a topic. Then, over the next 2 days, I start brainstorming on notebook paper about solidified ideas and evidence. I set deadlines for myself for when I need to have my thesis statement done, which usually ends up being Wednesday night. By Thursday, I’ve got my thesis statement and its supporting evidence all written out by hand so that I can refer to it and add more ideas as I think of them. Thursday night, I’ll begin typing, and continue typing Friday and Saturday. Sunday is dedicated to writing an introduction paragraph and thinking of a clever, punny title, which is a great addition for when you feel you need to make up for the lousy evidence that appeared in one of your body paragraphs.
- Google Calendar
Last but not least, I recommend using a digital calendar of some sort to remind you (literally) of all the responsibilities you forgot you had. I just started using Google Calendar this academic year and can not get enough of it. I bow down its ability to remind me 10 minutes before each event begins, create weekly recurring events, and allow customizable times and locations.