Congratulations, you have made it through yet another semester in university! Whether you did fantastically or less-than-expectedly is no longer worthy of your attention; it is time to shift focus to the semester ahead, one at which we will all excel.
This is a concise, no-nonsense guide to keeping your momentum going for the upcoming second semester. While this list is neither exhaustive nor fool-proof, I hope you find some points you resonate with to implement.
#1 Spring Clean: Once your exams have concluded, conduct a thorough spring clean of your living space. Get your flatmates in on it as well. A clean space not only reduces visual distraction and clutter, but also gives you a focused mental state and reduces stress.
#2 Get Acquainted with Notetaking: Some students like to enter a new semester with new notetaking formats. If this sounds like you, play around with the app features or decide what structure you’d like on paper, so you don’t fumble over notetaking methods when classes begin.
#3 Keyboard Shortcuts: If you haven’t already, learn basic shortcuts on the keyboard to increase your typing speed. Handy in taking lecture notes or furiously rushing assignments.
#4 Read the Course Structure: Know how your module works inside out. Keep a copy of it on your device. You don’t want to miss three consecutive tutorial sessions before realising that it counts for participation marks.
#5 Keep A List of Dues: Write down all your deadlines at the beginning of the semester, so you get a picture of what you are supposed to learn by certain weeks. Keep this list somewhere visible as a reminder.
#6 References and Citations: Although there is a good chance you won’t be referencing or citing much in your graduate job, learn to do it the right way while you are in university. That way, you won’t panic when the time comes for you to write your dissertation.
#7 Reflect on Feedback: Dissect any and all feedback you have received from the previous semester and identify your areas for improvement. Those are the pain points to target this semester.
#8 Actively Ask for Feedback: Make it a habit to ask for feedback on your work if you don’t already receive them. Don’t shy away from contacting your marker for a deeper discussion; half of the time, they are more than happy to give you tips on how to ascend to the next grade level.
#9 On Stationery: More often than not, one black pen is all you need. Buying an array of fancy pens and highlighters won’t help you get better grades if you don’t have a system in which to utilise them.
#10 Answer Questions in Class: You don’t have to pull a Hermione Granger and raise your hand in every lecture, but when a question is asked, try to answer it in your head. Most times, we just sit passively and let others answer without formulating our own thoughts.
#11 Revise Everyday: You don’t have to revise outside of lectures and tutorials for hours on end, but make it a habit to at least skim through the materials you have learned that day. Revising for 30 minutes a day is still better than not revising at all.
#12 Revise to Explain: The best way to ensure you have wrapped your head around a topic is to study as if you have to teach it to a ten-year-old (or a friend who doesn’t take your course) when you are done. Bonus points if you can also anticipate and answer any questions they may have after.
#13 Not All Study Hacks Work: Don’t always believe what you see online. If you already have a study system that works for you, there is no reason to switch to a stranger’s recommendation.
#14 There Is No Dumb Way to Study: If you need to read aloud or walk around to retain information, then do that (without annoying others). If you need to watch a simplified YouTube cartoon to understand a topic, go for it. There is literally no one stopping you from gaining knowledge in a way that works for you.
#15 Leverage Your Limitations: Sometimes, you are not bad at doing something; you’d simply perform better if you didn’t do it alone. If you are easily distracted when you study alone, it doesn’t mean you are bad at studying; just grab a study buddy to hold yourself accountable.
#16 Learn Outside the Classroom: Network with professionals, befriend students from other countries, join clubs and societies, volunteer, pick up a new hobby. At the end of the day, experience trumps grades.
#17 On Procrastination: Yes, it is normal, and everyone does it, but don’t make it a habit. Start your work early and progress in small, manageable chunks.
#18 Take Naps: University is not supposed to be a full-time job. You are allowed to take breaks and rest. Listen to your body.
#19 Emailing Lecturers and TAs: There is no shame in emailing the module conveyor or your TA to clarify a concept or topic. You are here to learn, and it is better to admit you don’t understand than to learn the wrong information.
#20 Befriend Your Academic Advisor: I am fortunate to have an advisor who is super down-to-earth and he has helped me through several bumps in the road. Reach out to yours! Be nice to them and remember they are always in your corner.
#21 Career Connect: One of the best features of the university is its career services. Signing up to Career Connect will keep you notified of internship or graduate job opportunities and save you the time of searching.
#22 Leave Peer Pressure Behind: Didn’t you hear? Peer pressure is sooo last semester. In all seriousness, do what makes you happy. There are tons of ways to still enjoy your time at university without succumbing to peer-pressured activities.
#23 The Destress Routine: Stress is part and parcel of undergraduate life, so have a routine that destresses you instantly. A pro tip is to make this routine as accessible and silly as you can. Have a dance party or impromptu karaoke in your bedroom and you will be amazed by the results. Definitely not recommending from experience.
#24 Outfit Dilemma: Try to lay out your outfit the night before and save yourself the energy and time to make one extra decision. If you decide to turn up in the same hoodie and sweatpants the whole week, you do you.
#25 Have A Stay-Awake Trick: One of these days, you will need to stay awake either for a morning lecture after a night out or to pull an all-nighter for a paper. Understand what magical concoction helps you stay awake: be it a cup of coffee or tea, or salted peanuts. Thank me later.
#Bonus! It’s OK to break down on a Wednesday night: Let’s be honest, you will break down crying over a paper sometime this semester. That’s perfectly fine. Some might even call it a shared experience among university students. What matters is you don’t let one breakdown nullify all your efforts. Cry about it, scream it out, you still made it this far.
Now, go forth and conquer the semester!