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  1. #1
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    Jul 2004
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    denver, colorado
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    Back to School blahs

    It seems like many of you are students... some of you probably also have children who are going back to school, or live with other people who are going to school. I for one am having my first week of school blahs - already feeling stressed out, overbooked, and my eyes are already straining from all of this art history reading!

    How do you cope? If you're a student, what do you do to relax even when you know you have a pile of tiny-print textbooks waiting to be read? If you have a student in your household, I'm also interested in the advice you give to them - my boyfriend's in the same predicament as me at this point and I'm at a loss, I don't know how to help him organize and chill.

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  3. #2
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    May 2004
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    Make use of your schools study centers and labs. Even if you have to stay after school, try to get as much of your homework done there as possible.
    Do Not Procrastinate. It won't help.
    It will make you stressed out, and you won't learn as much because you'll cram.
    I have to sit in my car on my breaks, or go to the math lab and work on stuff. Otherwise people talk to me, and I get distracted easily.
    Take snacks. Eating is essential to being able to concentrate. Take good snacks, and avoid crap food. Take a multivitamin. As tempting as it is to stay up until 2am, go to bed by 10. Your body will thank you.

    Get pens you enjoy writing with. Seriously. Even if they cost 15 dollars for a box of them at office max, you won't be writing with cheap bic pens that make you angry. Which sounds so stupid, but have you ever had to write with a scratch pen you hate? It just is so distracting.
    If you are doing math problems, get an engineering pad to do them on. It has no lines, and it's much easier to work on.

    Buy yourself a whiteboard, and tons of different colors of markers, Sometimes you just need to work things out on a bigger space than a piece of paper, and it's nice to be able to erase and rewrite w/o it being a hassle.

    Break your reading into blocks. Don't just jump in and start reading. Flip through the chapter, look at the pictures, read whatever catches your eye. Then go back, read the headlines. Then start reading the chapter after doing that. Take notes as you read.
    Always always always read the chapter section you are on BEFORE the teacher lectures on it. You won't have to take as many notes, because you can read it in the book since you know where the key points are. You can focus on listening, and understanding the things that didn't make sense when you read it the first time.

    Don't forget to ditch class a couple times a semester. This sounds stupid, but honestly, you need a break sometimes. If you KNOW the lecture is not on anything important, and there are no quizzes or labs, and you have been good, then just have a day of fun to do whatever. Three days in a semester is my max, but some people can get away with more.
    Go for a walk on the beach, out for coffee, to get an ice cream, something fun and enjoyable. You'll savor it more knowing you could be sitting in a lecture.

    Network with people in your classes. They can help you work out problems, and therefore lessen your workload.

    I find that meditation before tests really really helps me relax and focus.
    Sorry this is so long. Hopefully something in this thing was useful!

  4. #3
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2004
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    Wisconsin
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    I'm in my 21st grade this year :)

    Studying isn't a problem so much as planning for later (picking paper topics, getting the research done, meeting with professors). I've been spending a lot of time at the library browsing random medical journals lately.

    To relax?

    Knitting!!

  5. #4
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2004
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    Northern California
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    i wish my school had started. i'm bored shitless, and classes don't start until the 29th. i'm sure i'll regret saying that a few days after school finally does pick up, though.

    all i can say is, keep up with your reading even if it's the last thing in the world you want to do.

    i've regretted every time i've ditched a class to relax, but it's worth it to skip class if you're too sick to pay attention. well, i've ditched easy classes a few times and been perfectly happy, but i don't get a lot of easy classes.

    get enough sleep before tests, even if it means studying less than you would like. unless you're one of those people who can function on 45 minutes of sleep, in which case, i hate you. just kidding.

  6. #5
    Junior Member
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    Aug 2005
    Location
    Seattle
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    Great advice JediEmpressMel, very helpful.
    I would add to try to go easy on yourself.
    I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to school work, not that this means I earn all A's ; ). When I do slack off, I don't always do something that's good for me, like say, eating, for example. Or taking a walk around the hood. Or ingesting something that is completely mindless, like a glossy mag, silly show, or a wee nap. So I would recommend doing any/all of these things to retain some shred of sanity.
    And I hear ya Stella, mine hasn't started either, but my makeup bag sure is organized and sanitized!!! Muffins anyone? Please...let it start already.
    Good luck to you all ; )

    K

  7. #6
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2004
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    Canada
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    I work full time and go to school part time. I already have 1 bachelor's degree (isn't that a sexist name for it?) and 80% of a masters. Most of the courses I'm taking now are for fun, if you can believe that.

    To solve your reading panic, look at the couse outline and figure out what you have to read each week before class, and do it. Like, If you'll be doing chapters 1-5 in classes 1-5, read chapter 1 before class 1, chapter 2 before class 2 ... Don't read too far ahead because you'll get bored with the mateiral, and it won't be fresh in your mind for the class. You'll get so much more out of the class, you'll catch on to details, and the info will really stick in your brain. And that's really important - that's what I think makes the difference between an A and B average for a smart student. Or at least, when I do it I almost alwasy get an A, and when I don't, I get a B (or worse). You can just never recoup your losses if you don't absorb it in class.

    And yeah, take notes as you read. I generally divide my note books into (at least) 3 sections - the first for taking notes in class, the second for taking notes while reading the course materials / textbook, and the third for taking notes for the ever-present research paper that all my courses seem to include. This keeps my notebook neat and helps me find material easily.

    The craftista above is right: taking notes is also so much easier when you LOVE your pens and the paper you're writing on. This is ESPECIALLY true if you are crafty. I do headings in coloured ink, and the notes using fine gel pens - the ones that are thick and fat, and that feel good in your hand. Seriously, this helps. My notebooks are puurrrty. The only disadvantage is that my classmates like to photocopy my notes, which can be annoying, but such is life. I also invest in expensive notebooks , which sounds so dorky, but when you are excited about writing in your notebook that really helps.

    I have a palm which keeps me organized. Every week on the class appointment I put in my palm what I have to have read for that week. I also put in all the dates of my miterms and the exam period right in the beginning of the semester, so that I don't forget anything. You can also do this on a paper agenda or day-timer; my fancy palm is a way to link my student life with my work life, which is totally run in microsoft Outlook. It's a luxery item I bought last year; the rest of my life I used a daytimer with no problems.

    Good luck in the school year. As long as you are at least semi-interested in the subjects you are studying, it'll come together.

    del

  8. #7
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    denver, colorado
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    Thanks, all. That really does help. I like the comments about writing with pens that you like... I can be kind of cheap when it comes to school supplies, and usually buy packs of bic pens. But now that you mention it, I always have a slight twinge of excitement when I'm using a pen I like... I should consider buying a few more of them.

    I actually had to drop a class... I couldn't handle it (and I hate admitting that!) So now I'm taking 14 credits instead of 19. Phew.

    Do you guys have any specific suggestions for taking notes out of the text? I try to do it, and it really helps with the weekly papers for one of my classes, but it's also so much more time consuming than just reading without the notes. And by much more time consuming, for me I mean MUCH (as in two hours on a chapter vs. 45 minutes).

    Also, do any of you have any advice regarding grad school applications? Just how to get motivated to do them, how to write your personal essay, etc? I was thinking of starting a new thread about that topic but I don't want to inundate the board with my academic woes. :)

  9. #8
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    Apr 2004
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    I tend to like study dates, with myself or others. That could be a day (anytime) when you go out of the house to study. If you're in public, it may be studying that is more routine, or doesn't need as much concentration or is busy type work. The change in scenery, fresh air, company, a good snack or cup of coffee, music around me, the sound of other people studying - for some reason I find that I'll stick to my tasks a lot better. This is not an all-the-time thing, but once or twice a week, for motivation.

    One thing I wish I had done as a student: set up a proper study area/desk. I always studied on my bed, floor, or at a tiny desk with my crap spread out everywhere. My memories of studying are ones of tiredness, disorganization and frustration.

    Oh, yes - good materials. I love office supply stores!

  10. #9
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by for_esme

    I actually had to drop a class... I couldn't handle it (and I hate admitting that!) So now I'm taking 14 credits instead of 19. Phew.

    Do you guys have any specific suggestions for taking notes out of the text? I try to do it, and it really helps with the weekly papers for one of my classes, but it's also so much more time consuming than just reading without the notes. And by much more time consuming, for me I mean MUCH (as in two hours on a chapter vs. 45 minutes).
    Hey, 14 is still a lot. So don't feel bad about dropping it. It's better to admit you can't handle it, and drop now, while you still can w.o it hurting you.
    No shame in that.

    For taking notes out of the text..I don't actually read everything. I write down the heading, and then I copy all the key terms down, while I skim read the rest for clarification. I don't sit there reading every single sentence, and writing down everything in the book. Just the terms they have in bold, or any ideas that I think are important. It makes it a cut and dry version of the chapter when you are done.


 

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