Pretty crazy to think I’m about to start my Senior year in the fall. I’ve made it this far, so here’s some tips to help make college a little less challenging:
Find your system and stick to it. This can apply to everything from how to do your homework, how to organize your email, how to keep your room livable, etc. Here’s some of the ways I organize to provide inspiration:
Calendar: I use google calendar keep track of my work-shifts, club meetings, appointments and activities. I usually set a timer anywhere between 15min-1hr before the event time to give myself enough time to walk over/prepare myself. Some people use a physical calendar and that works too! A physical calendar can be useful to write down reading and homework assigned during class. However, I often just scribble it in on the top of my notes page and it works for me.
Taking Notes: I usually buy a three or five subject notebook and keep all of my class notes in one notebook (in different sections). You can definitely have a notebook for each class as well. Sometimes I’ll use one notebook for two classes by using the front page for one class and start with the back page for another class (it saves paper). I also have a paper folder or two where I keep handouts and other papers that accumulate. Some people utilize a binder and dividers and that works too.
You also want to have an assortment of pens/pencils/erasers/highlighters that you enjoy using and that work for you.
During class I take notes on the various lectures, powerpoints, discussions that are occurring. I’ll usually take hand written notes unless the professor seems like someone who moves quickly through lectures. If they seem fast, I use my laptop to take notes because I’m a faster typer than I am a writer. I tend to keep my notes to a rough outline format and highlight/star/underline the key terms. When I have an exam approaching I type up all of my class notes into a very well organized google doc. You can definitely share the document with others in your class and collaborate on the notes or you can just use it as a method to organize your notes. I’ve also made hand written study guides on notebook paper in the hope that slowly writing would help me memorize the information better than just typing it.
Basically, pick a system for taking notes and reviewing and stick to it! Also, having a digital version of notes is really useful to cntrl + f for something you’re looking for and you know that you have a record of your notes regardless of what happens to your notebooks. Sometimes professors will share their PowerPoint slides with the class and that’s great too!
2. Being Involved
Clubs and Activities: The transition between high school and college can be really overwhelming. There are so many choices to make and things to do, organize, experience, etc. All of the possibility is really exciting but sometimes having so many choices and so many options is overwhelming. On club day I signed up for way too many clubs and actually only ended up being actively involved in about two or three of them. However, I encourage you to sign up for many different clubs and use the first meeting to help you decide if it’s something you would like to continue attending. Feel no obligation to them if you don’t like them. College is about finding out what you love to do. Being involved on campus is a great way to build a sense of community and a great way to meet people!
It’s also really important to get to know your roommate(s) and hall mates! Also your RA and AD are guaranteed to be some awesome people and you should definitely take them up on their offers of coffee/tea dates.
Get off campus: Go exploring! Try new things! You can take the pio downtown and then bus anywhere you might want to go in the city. You can get a monthly discounted trimet pass through the school for only $25 (it’s normally $100!!). You can also download the Trimet Tickets app and the PDX Bus app for your phone. Both are super useful to have around. You can also take advantage of ZipCar! You can go eat food, look at the Saturday market, walk into shops, hang out in Powells, etc. Even if you don’t want to head downtown you can walk to Tryon Creek State Park or the Willamette River…see what’s just around you. (Plus College Outdoors has some amazing trips)
Class Attendance: Finally, go to class. If you’re late, go anyways. Similarly, go to professors office hours. If you feel afraid or awkward or nervous, know that going to office hours is always worth it. Building personal relationships with professors are so beneficial and getting help on material you don’t completely understand is helpful in the long run.
3. Make Time For You.
College is overwhelming and it’s full of a lot of new experiences. Be sure you set aside some time and activities that help you relax and take the stress out of your day or week. Some great options are being creative at the Platteau, going through a walk in Tryon, going to the gym, visiting the Ombuds office, or visiting the counseling services. Or maybe you just want to lay in bed on a Saturday and watch Netflix for a few hours. De-stressing is different for every person. You do you.
4. Remind Yourself That You Are Worth More Than A Grade.
There so much pressure put on getting good grades. Failure is something that inevitably happens to everyone and through it’s painful there is still a lot of value in the experience and growth that comes from it. There might be a time that you don’t get a good grade on a quiz, or a test, or a paper, but that’s okay. Maybe you had a family crisis that stressed you and your grades suffered. Or maybe you have serious test anxiety and it distracted you from focusing. There is a plethora of reasons. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t mean you’re not smart. Grades don’t define you and the the amount of work you put into school. Keep in mind that grades are important, but college is about learning. And sometimes learning means you won’t get it right the first time. My advice is always give it your best effort and that’s enough. You’re always worth more than a number or a grade.