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Reading Days and Why They’re Important

September 30, 2011

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Rutgers is generous around finals time. After classes end, there will be 2 days where, well, there aren’t classes or any meetings or anything like that, and they’re meant for students to have 2 solid days studying for finals. It’s really helpful and you’ll be grateful you have these days to do nothing but study and prepare for your exams. Especially for all my people out there who won’t study until last minute, this is your chance to totally procrastinate until reading days start. You might have review sessions for classes during these days that are meant to help you out, too which is also pretty good. So yeah, if anyone brings it up to you or you hear “reading days” anywhere, now you know what they are!

Also, take advantage of the midnight breakfast every dining hall has the night before finals start. Literally at like 11, the dining hall opens up and it’s all breakfast food. It’s great.

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How to Study

September 30, 2011

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Well, if you’re NOT like me, you never had a problem studying and could skate your way through high school getting A’s. Well, there’s a chance that you might have a rude awakening in college. It’s always possible that you’ll get through your first year without any HUGE problems, but then again, you might have a really hard class first semester and you won’t do well because you just didn’t know how to study. Here are some tips for those people on how to actually START yourself on studying:

1. Memorization
Let’s be honest. Most people just don’t study for the love of learning. It takes a very special kind of person to do that and be able to pick it up simply. So a lot of studying is really about memorization. You might be so lucky as to get a list of key terms from your professor that you need to know for an exam. To me, that’s like gold, so I’d put together a study guide or something and just memorize it. I’d read it over a bunch of times, one page at a time, go back when I read half the page and just repeat it until it was burned in my brain. That’s all it takes. Repetition = memorization. You keep repeating the same stuff, adding a little more in, repeating all of that, and so on. It’s doable.

2. Paraphrasing/giving yourself simple examples
Sometimes you won’t understand wtf your book is talking about, so to understand it more, you might wanna think of it a little more simply or refer to it in the form of an example from your life. Now obviously that’s hard to do with a subject like chemistry, so you might not be able to use this for a harder math or science, but if it’s a relatable subject or even a biology, it might be a little easier to think of personal examples.

3. Doing a little bit over a long period of time
This is the best general way or studying instead of cramming. There are people who swear by cramming, and hey, that’s all good. It’s just overall the better way of studying for things and you can fluently remember things better if you DON’T cram. You need to study a little bit every day before your quizzes/exams. That comes in the form of reading every chapter, if you’re making a study guide, taking a few days to make it instead of doing it all in one day, and just reviewing things before the night before your exam. You’ve probably heard this a million times from people who tell you it’s a proven way of studying. They’re right though, and the reason that is is because (psych lesson for everyone) distributed practice enhances your memory. By spacing out what you learn, it allows your brain to absorb more. So technically, this is the best way to study.

To sum it up: There are a bunch of different ways you can study like making study guides, flash cards, quizzing yourself, etc. And if you find that cramming and being under pressure like that works for you, do what works. Just if you’re new to studying, try whatever you think you might be comfortable with and see if it works. You might learn to study better than you think you will.

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Find Quiet Places to Study

September 30, 2011

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I’ve found that the best way to study and really focus on learning stuff is to do it in a place that’s quiet (semi-common sense, I know). It really does work though. There’s a big, BIG difference between studying in a semi-quiet dorm room with 4 other people in it, versus studying in a library and campus center where it’s completely quiet. When I study, I can’t do it with my friends or anything; I need to be by myself. I’ll go to my campus center, sit down with my books and my chill playlist on my iPod, and it’ll help a lot. Obviously, everyone’s got a different way of studying, and that’s cool, but if you find that you’re not getting the grades you want when studying with other people around, try it a different way. Studying in quiet or quiet with an iPod isn’t so bad.

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Get Work Done Right Away

September 30, 2011

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One of the things I learned in school was the earlier you start and get your work done, the easier it is to do. I would come back from math classes my freshmen year and get my work done there because it was easier to remember what we did in class. Even if it’s not a math class and you just have to read, do it close to when you have class and it’ll be easier for you. You retain things better, and then you won’t have to worry about it later on.

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All-Nighters Can Be a Myth

September 29, 2011

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When you think of studying in college, most people probably picture someone in the library until like 4am studying and cramming for this test. Well in real life, it doesn’t have to be like that. I haven’t pulled an all-nighter yet for classes, but the only reason that is is because I stayed on top of my work and was lucky enough to have exams that were semi-spaced out. I don’t know what it’ll be like for me next year, and for some of you, you might not have a choice is you’re an engineering major or pre-med or anything like that. For the most part though if you’re not one of those exceptions with a ridiculously time-consuming major, there’s a chance you won’t have to pull all-nighters unless you leave your work for the last minute. The important thing to remember is that if you’re coming into college worried that your life is gonna be filled with all-nighters every single night all year, it’s probably NOT gonna be like that. So when the time comes, you can think about how you’re gonna handle it then.

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How To Buy/Rent Used Books

September 23, 2011

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You’ll find that once you get your schedule/syllabi and start searching for textbooks that you’re gonna be really confused and not know where to even start. The key is to do your research. You wanna look for the cheapest prices and buy them as soon as possible so in case there’s a delivery problem, it’ll get to you before you go to school. I’ll try to break it down so you won’t be as confused after reading this.

FIRST: Where to look.
There are so many places you can look for textbooks besides the actual bookstores on campus. Here are some good options:

1. Amazon Student (www.amazon.com/student): Amazon’s nice because sometimes you can be eligible for free shipping. Their prices, although they’re discounted, can still be a little high, so make sure you look around before buying here. Amazon also has pretty much everything lol. I was just on the website and I saw new bedsheets.
2. Half.com: It’s eBay without bidding. It’s easy to search on there, too because you can look up the book’s ISBN number. Sometimes though if you’re looking for a custom book, it won’t be listed because it’s specific to the university, so like I said in my last post, if you have like a custom version and the regular hardback, make sure you find what’s cheaper (custom)
3. Chegg.com: A site that’s great if you choose to rent your textbooks, which is the cheapest way of going about this. I’m not sure if you can write in them, though. From what I’ve read, they’re all in excellent condition so I guess it’s good for the people who don’t plan to write in their books. Plus, they plant a tree for every rental so if you’re all about being eco-friendly, this is where you wanna go.
4. campusbooks (http://www.campusbooks.com/): You can buy off of here and you put in the ISBN or the author/title and it compares prices for you.
5. Bigwords.com: They also compare prices and calculate shipping into it. I just researched them and they seem to be incredibly cheap. I think they might just be rentals though, I’ll need to look into it more.
6. NJ Books (www.njbooks.com) This is where I’ve bought pretty much all my text books because they’ve been custom books. I swear by NJ Books because they’re very helpful and they’re cheap. They’re not the cheapEST, but if you don’t wanna rent and you need a custom book, this is where you wanna go. I only had one issue with NJ Books where they never mailed me my order 2nd semester but they were very nice about it, they charged me used prices for all of them even though they were new books, and they reimbursed my shipping charge because I was back in school by the time I got the books. They’re located on Easton Ave. in New Brunswick which is about 2 blocks up from the grease trucks/Scott Hall bus stop. You can buy online or put them on hold/buy in store. The website tells you exactly what you need because you can put in your schedule and they tell you the new/used book prices. This is my personal favorite. (and they’re cheaper than Amazon, I know that much!)

SECOND: Research every website. 
It may be a pain in the ass to go to every single website, but the way I see it, it’s about a half hour out of your Tumblr time to look at every website you can to research your books lol. You’ll be very happy you did. I really didn’t do that last year because I didn’t even know how to start looking, but hopefully this helps you gain a sense of direction.

To sum it up: When it comes time to buying textbooks, do your research. Go on every website and look up what will be cheapest. As I’ve said before, I’d go with used books, but renting is also an option if you feel like you won’t write in the book. Most of books are like canvases haha, so I usually go with used. But take the time out to look them up and you’ll be VERY happy that you did!!

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Don’t Compare Your Grades to Others’

September 23, 2011

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This was always one of my pet peeves in high school. You have those people who are in your classes and they’re all like “WHAT’D YOU GET? HOW’D YOU DO?” and you’re like “STFU, I FAILED” inside. It’s super annoying, so don’t bring that habit to college. You get to a certain point where you have to realize that everyone tests differently, everyone does differently in school, so you shouldn’t compare yourself to others or worry about what other people got on their exams. I keep saying that college is individually what you make of it, and that also means it’s about your INDIVIDUAL performance. So forget how everyone else does and don’t compete with them. It’s not gonna help you in the long run because what they do has nothing to do with how you’re gonna do. I never liked to compete with other people, I just tried to compete with myself, and I always felt like I did better when I didn’t try to top anyone else. I understand that this may motivate people, and hey, if it does, don’t listen to me. All I’m saying is don’t brag about your grades, and don’t openly try to compete with other people when it comes to your grades. It won’t benefit you.

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Develop Time Management Skills

September 23, 2011

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If you’re one of those students who had to study for everything their entire life and actually earn the grades they got, you probably have good time management skills. If you’re not like that, which most people I know are NOT, this is really important in college.
TRUST ME, you will not get through college without studying. This kid I used to be friends with who never studied in high school (and bragged about it :| ) had to start studying because he realized it’s not high school anymore. You will have to prioritize and manage your time in order to get good grades. What I mean by this is:
-don’t procrastinate. Start as early a you can so you can get whatever you need to do over with quicker
-don’t do work with groups of people unless you’re doing a group project or are in a study group
-try not to sit in front of your laptop or whatever while studying. I’d be doing homework on my bed and I’d have to physically leave my phone on my desk so I would be lazy enough to not wanna get up for it lol. It works.
-make mental lists for yourself. Figure out what you wanna get done first, second, and last, and do it that way. It’s up to you.
-try to read chapters before lectures that’ll be going over them. I did that for general psych and it helped me a lot. I plan on doing it more this year.
-buy post-it notes or a planner and write what you need to do. I’ve found pleasure in being able to cross stuff off post it notes lol. Maybe you will too!
-if you need to, do work in your lounges or go to your campus center/library. I underestimated how much reading in a quiet environment actually helps.

Obviously, there are a bunch of things you can do to help yourself manage your time the right way. Try not to fall into the trap of procrastinating, because once you start, it becomes harder to stop.

To sum it up: time management is important. Don’t save things for the last minute, do work little by little, and you’ll get good grades

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Take Office Hours Seriously

September 3, 2011

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It’s just like high school: a teacher tells you you’ll be having a review, you don’t wanna go because you’re busy or, well, let’s be honest, you’re too lazy. However, it’s NOT like high school in the way that your professors are very accommodating people. They have office hours where for 2 or so hours they’ll be in their offices on campus and students can come in with any questions or concerns. Even if you have the littlest question, go to them. They’ll remember your face and your name and it makes you look like a better student because you actually care. Even if it’s once during exam time, it still makes a difference.
If a professor has office hours that you really can’t get to for whatever reason, email them, tell them your situation, and you can schedule an appointment with them.

My experience with office hours has been pretty good. I got a C+ in expos and my God was I happy about that (they say only 1/3 of the people who take it pass it, even though everyone I know passed it). I kept getting C’s and NP’s (not passing) on my papers and I was like what the hell is going on? I simply wasn’t understanding what my teacher wanted from me, so I went to her office hours and she edited my paper and gave me suggestions to make it better. I got a B on that paper. I was ECSTATIC.

To sum it up: take advantage of your professors’ office hours. They’re there to help you succeed and they really do help out.

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Don’t Let Freedom Interfere with Homework or Studying

September 1, 2011

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You hear it all the time: college is all about freedom but more about schoolwork. Take it from someone who’s right there with you, though: it’s true. Too many times I saw some friends or people I know procrastinate work or studying for watching movies or doing other things during the week. If you have the time, awesome -that’s a plus about school. But if you know you have stuff to do, don’t be an idiot and do other things.

At Rutgers and most schools, they have thirsty Thursday as well as weekends. My roommate and I lived in a hallway full of dumb girls/guys who went out during the week to drink. They’d come back at like 2:30 and we’d be about to go to bed and we’d look at each other and be like “don’t they have work to do?!” Parties will always be there, hanging with friends will always be there, so don’t worry about it, and get your work done.
Legit, a good amount of the 2nd semester I was stuck in my room doing work and I missed out on a lot of stuff, but like I said, it’ll always be there, so it’s not like you’re gonna be exiled if you haven’t hung with your friends in a while because of school. It happens, that’s mainly what you’re there for. If you have an exam or a test to study for, don’t go to the party Friday or Saturday. it seriously won’t kill you. Besides it’s nice to have alone time sometimes.

To sum it up: If you have work to do, get it done and hang with friends later

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