[school] Advice for those entering first year of university!

This is sort of pretentious to do, since I’ve only just completed my first year. Yet, someone asked me for advice, so I decided to type up a post. Plus, I have too many recent kpop posts! Darn.

So, please keep in mind, these are things that I did, but may not necessarily work for everyone–

Keep a schedule. College is the first time where you have a lot of freedom and independence with your schedule–when to work, when to hang out with friends, when to do homework, etc. This can be very overwhelming to remember, so I suggest keeping a schedule that is easy to use and is accesible; I use Google Calendar, which syncs to all my mobile devices and can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection. A lot of the times I forget when I have work, but a prompt reminder from GCal 10 minutes beforehand is a lifesaver. Also, scanning my schedule briefly, I can see where I have pockets of time to do homework, errands or to hang out with friends, and I can prioritize my activities accordingly.

Keep a to-do list. This ties in with keeping a schedule. I’m really forgetful, so putting everything down on Google Tasks on GCal helps me to keep track of due dates. Also, it’s just really satisfying to check something off and cross it out once you’re done.

a typical week for me: schedule & tasks

Have a plan. Colleges will have a list of requirements you need to fulfill in order to graduate, and also, your major department will have required courses as well. Please look them up. Though it’s your first semester, and you should explore your options, make sure you aren’t just picking classes and activities willy-nilly, but classes that you will enjoy and also help you towards graduation. Otherwise, you will find yourself as a senior taking an overload of classes, which is not the laidback, I’ve-got-three-job-offers, ideal. Looking ahead and developing a plan is an absolute must for those considering medical school.

Never, ever hesitate to contact or meet with professors. Professors are there to connect with students, and help them with their academic growth. If you don’t understand anything, if you just want to talk, if you just want to check out their shelf of books, just visit them during office hours. In university, though they want you to do well, professors don’t necessarily coddle you through every step. Thus, the student needs to take the first step in a more personal relationship.

Get things done early rather than doing them later. This oft-repeated, last piece of advice is easier said than done. Procrastination is the bane of all college students. However, trust me, however painful it is to start studying for your finals two weeks in advance, you’ll be easy and breezy once it comes to the final itself. The sense of self-confidence that stems from early preparation is worth it. Also, it’s better to do studying in shorter bits over a long time period rather than an 9 hour cram session. You have more time to absorb material, ask professors questions if you don’t understand, and not be as bored (one hour studying for multivariable calculus versus nine hours?! If I ever did the latter, I think I would have tried to throw my books out the window).

Some other studying tips: 

(1) study in various places— your dorm, the library, in Starbucks. It will break the monotony, and the material you learn will get associated to many places, helping your mind better remember it.

(2) study for one to two hours at a time, then take a break— like watching a funny Minho & Jonghyun video, doing some stretching, getting a snack from the dining hall. However, the danger about this is that when I start watching funny Minho & Jonghyun videos, somehow I start watching full episodes of Strong Heart.. but aside from my issues of self-control, having little breaks will also break the monotony.

darn you and your cuteness, Jjong!

(3) handwrite— it will help you remember. Period. I have reams of paper where I just copied this one formula, over and over.

(4) save everything you do— say you just had a quiz. You studied for it, wrote a study guide. Then you have a test. Yay! You already have a study guide for some of the material on the test, and you can focus on studying the rest of the material.

(5) don’t study with friends— unless that friend is me. I mean it. Otherwise, friends usually end up distracting you. However, if they’re me, they understand it’s important for you to have quiet time, and will leave you alone and hassle you if you haven’t finished your work. I’m a good friend. Right.

(6) turn off all notifications— like your cell phone. No texting. For me, I turn off my iPod notifications and disable notifications on my computers. So I have no idea when someone texts me, Facebooks me, comments on the innocent lam, and so thus, I don’t feel compelled to answer immediately. That’s sort of why I dropped off the innocent lam for the past two weeks. Though I did keep tabs on everything, I pretty much lost all my real-time response.

(7) suggested: listen to music— I am a music person, so I have music on for a better part of the day. When I say music person, I do not mean ‘kpop fangirl who listens to SHINee all day’ but rather, I’m musically inclined. For example, I unconsciously hum to myself, which is not astonishing news, but when I hum long pieces from classical canon, it all gets a little hairy, and people actually start asking me what I’m humming. Anyways, now you know I’m delirious, but music can drown out some of the outside distractions and provide something your unconscious can connect to while consciously absorbing knowledge. If you get distracted by music, avoid it. As T.S. Luna pointed out below, music isn’t a conclusive booster of studying or memorization skills!

I hope this helped! ^^ Good luck on your first year, everyone.


7 thoughts on “[school] Advice for those entering first year of university!

  1. You should put the “get things done early rather than doing them later” as the first thing actually. and star it. x100
    I think you can also add, although it might be different depending on your college/requirements, that freshman year, get ALL your GE classes done FIRST.
    another tip thats kind of not a big deal, but helped me when picking classes, was to use ratemyprofessors.com to make sure I find a class that is easy to pass versus a class that has an interesting description but awful professor (which would suck). not all colleges have professors on that, however.
    in regards to the music thing, unfortunately, rock and/or pop music doesn’t really work to get people to focused on studying and its also been proven that music doesnt enhance memory skills at all so you might want to put that as a unverified suggestion.

    • thank you for the suggestions!

      a lot of studies regarding music and memorization are suggestive and don’t conclusively say that music doesn’t or does enhance memory for the average person. Which is to say.. depends on the person, which is why I put “suggested”..

      yes, it highly depends on your college when you should do reqs. My college has course-intensive majors, so I can’t really afford to fill up my first year with reqs. a lot of things may actually sit until senior year :P


      • good point. my college has heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeella (x1000) competition for classes so saving up ge for senior yr is a bad idea. yeah it does depend

  2. oh my god..you just made my day!!that’s so nice of you..I hope that you were not busy while making this..Tomorrow I’ll be going to the University and I don’t know whether I can online or not (maybe for a week or so..)..The contents is just what I expected it to be..and I hope that it would help me throughout the semester..I”m gonna share this!!

    from : Freshie Kindergartener..

  3. okay…next time when you go to starbucks, call me okay… i will go with you …
    i always end up facebooking in the library….T T

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