Top 10 Tips for Succeeding At School/College
“Success” is a term that is not clearly defined but so many people strive for it. My idea of success in college is exposing yourself to new things while maintaining happiness and good grades. From here, hopefully you’ll find what is important to you and what kind of career or service you want to contribute to society. Hopefully these tips will help you do well in school and be happy. Many of my ideas have came from Cal Newport’s Study Hacks, his two books, and other productivity blogs, so if you want to read more go to his website.
1. Make some sort of organization system
There are many appointments, classes, and other obligations that need to be remembered. Cal Newport talks about his 5 minutes scheduling system that is REALLY easy. The only thing you need is a calendar (use Google calendar or a real one…doesn’t matter too much) and a piece of scrap paper.
Think of your calendar as the master list of things to do. With the calendar, you have to look at upcoming deadlines and such. It gives you a better idea of what is coming up and so you won’t be surprised about shit.
With the scrap paper, you are going to make two columns: the schedule and things to remember. Under the things to remember, you will write down everything that comes up during the day (group meetings… frat parties… events or assignments that you want to put in your calendar). The schedule you are going to schedule things that you need to do that day and you are going to look at your calendar for things to put under.
However, this is not a to do list! Give yourself more time than needed to do stuff, like give an hour for meals or like give 2 hours for a 100 page reading assignment. The point is to make sure you ACTUALLY get stuff done and maintain flexibility with your schedule. Shit comes up and that happens, but you have to prepare for it when it does!
At the end of the day you are going to write everything in the things to remember column in your calendar and repeat the next day.
2. Schedule Free Time
It’s important to relax and just chill out. I usually like scheduling this time at the end of the day before I sleep. The key to success is not becoming too overwhelmed or stressed in college. Call a friend, IM some people, or maybe watch an episode of Scrubs or porn. Whatever helps you get your stress levels down. People focus too much on what to do that they forget the importance of doing nothing. This also helps eliminate procrastination.
3. Don’t do too much. Quality over quantity.
This isn’t high school and I doubt medical school or graduate schools give a shit about your list of activities. Do they care if you were a member of Chinese Student Association? Probably not. If stuff is too overwhelming for you don’t do it. Just remember, academics and your own happiness is more important than trying to list a bunch of activities. However, by doing less you’ll have more time to devote to school and more time to pursue the things you really care about. With this extra time you can devote this toward a bigger cause like publishing a book or a science article. All it takes to do these type of things is to start early and pay your dues. When you see the opportunity to take on a big project, do it!
4. Start early on shit!
As soon as you get that syllabus from that professor, look at all the due dates. They should go into your calendar. Start from day 1 on big projects so that you won’t have to pull all nighters. Doing things little bit at a time will make the project less painful and will make it seem that things aren’t that bad after all. Plus when you procrastinate and do things for long spurts your energy gets depleted very quickly and the hours of work don’t actually equal the hours for productivity. Think about it. You work 10 hours on a project. But how many hours were you actually working?
5. Stay connected with people
Don’t hermit yourself up. College is a time of making friendships and a time where you work on speaking to people. After all, the feeling of doing nothing on a Friday night sucks right? Hopefully, you’ll have friends to just kick it with you. Also don’t forget about your friends back home. Winter break is LONG…you don’t want to be alone, doing nothing during that time! Staying happy is essential to success!
6. Go to class!
We’ve all done it before and said we could just self study the materials. However, why waste your free time. The professor goes and highlights the important things that he/she is going to test on. Why waste your time, trying to understand a topic that your professor can clear up for you right there and then. Going to class is probably one of the best time saving things you can do for your college career. Plus it helps to get the professor to recognize you and build some sort of relationship with the professor. Help is readily there so take advantage of it!
7. Stay “Healthy”
How can your mind function, when your body cannot? Treat exercise as a priority to yourself. Good eating and training habits are important for your health. How can you achieve great things if you’re going to die at an early age? It serves as an energy and self-confidence booster. It’s one less thing to worry about (Freshman 15 or 50 =p) . I could go on about this but I think it deserves its own article.
8. 50 minutes on and 10 minutes off
So when actually studying, I find that working 50 minutes on and 10 minutes off is the best strategy. During that 10 minutes you can use that time to check your email or do whatever. However, those 50 minutes you are going to do nothing but study! This is the best way to keep myself focused when studying. Again, this makes the assignment or project less painful.
9. Clean your room and yourself up
Don’t study in your room. There are too many distractions in it. Having a clean room, helps you relax after getting home from a long day. You want this to be your retreat and have nothing to do with your work or anything of that sort. Being disorganized makes you less relaxed and cleaning your room is one more thing to worry about.
By cleaning yourself up, I mean don’t scrub out everyday. What happens when you see that hot girl in class and you smell like shit and your scrubed out. Your self confidence goes down and it’s NOT a good feeling when that happens. Plus you want to look somewhat professional for your professors. Believe it or not people judge on your appearances and not being dressed promotes laziness and shit like that.
10. Study when your energy levels are best and sleep
Your energy levels are at its peak during the day. Humans were not made to be nocturnal, so we get tired at night. You know how it is. When its night time the only thing that you want to do is go to sleep and it’s much harder to concentrate. Plus nighttime should be the time where you just kick it and reduce your stress levels. Sleep quality is important for processing the information you just learned and feeling good during the day. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll feel bitchy and feel like shit. When you feel like shit, how do you have the energy to do your daily tasks. Last thing you want to do is study and you just want to nap. Naps are BAD because they screw up your sleep cycle by sleeping later and later. From this point you’re just setting yourself up in a vicious cycle.
Anyways I’m just chilling at 88 just writing what I’m interested about. I just wanted to share this information with you guys. I know a lot of you just finished midterms, so it’s a fresh new start for you guys. I’m sure I forgot some other things, but these are the things that came to mind. Try this out for awhile and see what happens. And if cramming works for you then keep on doing it. I’m just offering a solution that’s less stressful and more effective.