With the academic calendar now in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll get through the rest of the year (and how you'll excel at your studies while you're at it!).
The following are five of the most practical tips you’ll need — from balancing your commitments to keeping track of your lectures notes and assignments.
Make time for study and balance your commitments
Balancing study, work and social commitments can be tough. It may mean having fewer social outings during semester, cutting back your work shifts or spending some weekends locked inside studying. But keep in mind that balance isn’t just a matter of making sacrifices. Although some sacrifices may be necessary, balancing your commitments is more about looking for ways to manage — perhaps seeking out flexible options such as online study or having a chat to your employer about greater flexibility in your work hours.
Prepare for assessments ahead of time
Although this is obvious advice, it still gets a mention because too few students practise what they preach. If good marks are what you’re after, preparation is key. This might mean beginning your research the day assessment outlines are handed out or keeping up with a consistent study schedule throughout the semester if you know one of your subjects is marked quite harshly. Preparing in advance saves you from many of the nasty surprises that come with last-minute study, such as realising just how much work needs to go into an assessment the night before it’s due.
If you’re ever unclear about something, don’t hesitate to speak up. Your lecturer or tutor will be more than happy to answer your questions — particularly if your question will help out others in the class who were too shy to say anything. If you have concerns about how a particular piece of assessment was marked (perhaps you think you marked incorrectly), it’s better to voice your concerns than hold a grudge or lose marks that could have been yours.
Keep track of your work (in a logical place)
Months down the track, when you’re in a mad rush to locate that article you downloaded in your first week, it’ll help to have kept track of your work. If you’re working on your laptop or tablet, try to save your work in a logical place. For example, you might create two folders (‘Semester one’ and ‘Semester two’) and divide each of these into folders for each subject — perhaps even dividing these further into lectures, tutorials and readings. This doesn’t just apply to electronic files either. If you’re taking notes on paper, try to get out of the habit of borrowing spare paper from friends and chucking it in the bottom of your bag. Take your notepad to each class and ensure that all your lecture notes and any handouts you receive are clearly labelled (with date and class name) and stay in the one place. This makes assignment research and exam preparation much easier when the time comes.
Attend optional events and seminars
If you find your student inbox flooded with invitations to after-hours sessions or seminars, take the time to read through at least a few of the emails — you’ll be surprised at how many of these are relevant to your studies, even if they do eat up some of your free time. You’ll find that your institution organises anything from workshops to help you develop skills in a certain area (such as academic referencing) to seminars about improving your graduate job prospects, sessions about international study tours and even guest lectures with professionals from your field. If news of these events isn’t emailed to you, you may find flyers on the noticeboard in your institution’s student centre.