Starting the semester right with tips for achievement

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By Rachael Vacanti, Contributor

Congratulations! You survived your first week of the semester. Now the question is, what about the rest of the semester? How do you keep track of all those syllabi and due dates? Don’t even get me started on the excessive pages of reading.

It helps to have some type of system for writing things down. This can be anything: your smartphone, a whiteboard or even a paper planner and pen. Write down everything you need to: your reading assignments, work schedule, paper due dates, class times, social times and all of your appointments. Color-coding does wonders for organizing. Senior Madaline Eblen has a planner that, if it was lost, she would cry. “I use it to plan ahead in the semester and to make reminders of what I need to do the next week or the following day,” Eblen said.

Once things are written down, prioritize a list of what has to get done first and write it down. It makes you feel so productive to cross stuff off. When reading a textbook, the subject matter can get very dull, even if you like it. Do not think about the entire chapter. Take it in chunks and be sure to write your notes as you go. Only highlight key terms and definitions, summary sentences and key ideas.

I went from highlighting almost an entire page to just a few highlight marks within two pages. Junior Kelly Langin, a journalism major and copy editor for The Gateway, is a “skim-reader.”“When I do reading assignments, it gets done quickly but I don’t catch everything,” Langin said. Senior Madeline Eblen, majoring in public relations and advertising, said she tackles it a little bit every day. “I find it can be overwhelming to sit down and read something in one sitting and can become time-consuming. When I spread it out, I feel like it requires less time in my day and I am more willing to do it,” Eblen said.

Alas, you can’t just read the textbook and learn. You have to take notes. This can be done in several ways. Personally, I do much better with outlines. Other people prefer to annotate the textbook, scribbling in the margins. Don’t forget about taking notes in class. Students do this in a variety of ways. “My note taking style is to write literally everything that I hear down,” said Eblen. Sophomore Shantell Ferris, majoring in secondary English and language arts, only writes down key concepts. “I copy them down shorthand so I can make sure I write down everything I feel is relevant,” said Ferris.

But then there comes the question: how am I going to have a social life with all this studying? The key is prioritizing your time. Study with friends from class, or friends from other majors. Reward yourself after studying by getting together with a friend for coffee or a Bible study. It is agreed by students that school is the number one priority. “School is my main priority and that comes first,” Eblen said. Ferris echoed this concept. “I just basically tell myself I need to get this amount of school work done and get that done,” she said. Other times, students have to learn by mistakes. “I have 5 semesters under my belt of trial and error for what helps me stay on top of things,” Langin said. In conclusion, I can sum this up nicely: 1. Plan your day in advance. 2. Stay on top of your reading. 3. Write down everything.

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