Taking summer classes is a splendid way to either get ahead of or catch up on the credit hours we need, but it comes with a unique problem: we’re learning the same 16 weeks’ worth of material in only 4 weeks. Cramming this much material into this little time can cause problems with time management and information absorption for some students.
Fear not! University Wellness absolutely believes in you and is here to give you some tips on how to get through your studious summer.
Step One: Stay Motivated
While we’re here for the summer, our friends are off having adventure or chilling out. It’s hard to dedicate oneself to a mound of homework if other people are having wildly fun experiences, but we can do it!
Take it day by day, assignment by assignment. No matter how many assignments or tests there are take them one at a time. Even if there’s 3 essays, 2 tests, and 5 quizzes this week plus a class project (and then another essay and even more quizzes due the next week) you can only write/study for/do one thing at a time. It’s good to keep an eye out for what’s coming up but just focus on what there’s time for today and do it bit by bit.
Step Two: Be well, do well!
Even when the work load is heavy, don’t forget self-care! Hydrate, eat well, get adequate sleep, and relax with friends whenever possible. Without taking caring of the body, the brain is gonna start feeling pretty groggy. In order to do your best academically, try to do your best physically and mentally, as well. Keep an eye out for our regular “Stress-Free Sunday” posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more info on how to treat yo self.
Step Three: Organization
First thing’s first: a planner. If you don’t have a planner, get one ASAP. There’s no need for a fancy one – you don’t even need a dedicated book. Even writing the week’s deadlines, tasks, and events down on a simple sheet of paper will serve as a planner, especially when employing a fun, colorful format like this one. There are also apps, like The Homework App, which makes it easy to set reminders.
The classic to-do list is also a really great way to stay organized (and to help break down your work into manageable sections). Try to be detailed in what you want to get done each day, like have 3-5 important, detailed tasks and focus on those, rather than listing a bunch of things that will be overwhelming.
Once you’ve acquired your planner of choice, splatter it with information from class syllabuses – reading, in-class activities, important deadlines, test dates, etc.
Try using different colors for different classes, especially colors that are appealing so your planner is easier on the ye. This is easiest in-app because there’s no need to carry around a bunch of different markers.
Bonus: with a book-type planner, you can write important info like class meeting times/places or scantron form numbers in the front of the book.
Step Four: Time Management
Use time wisely. There never seems to be enough time, right? Find more time by using small chunks of time to study. With 10 or more minutes between one event and another, there’s time to whip out a book or some flashcards/notes. Studying isn’t the act of taking in every piece of information at once – it’s all bit by bit. If you’re only able to answer one question or if you only got one page of reading done – that’s less that you’ll have to do later. Never underestimate the might of awkward time gaps!
This tip is classic: don’t procrastinate. Ahhh, this is so much easier said than done, but it’s sadly true – doing things a little bit at a time usually results in being less stressed later. Brains are able to absorb material much better if they’re not under intense pressure. In addition, there’s more time to seek out extra resources, contact professors, or what else. Can’t beat procrastination on your own? Check out site-blocking apps like Cold Turkey, StayFocusd, or Strict Workflow. Try Forest for your phone or RescueTime to keep track of your habits.
Step Five: Study Tips
No matter how you do it, engage the material. Don’t endlessly re-read passages or mechanically flip through flashcards. Physically involving yourself can help your brain remember more. Writing/re-writing info is a classic way of committing things to your brain, but reading aloud, making mnemonic songs, drawing (doesn’t have to be a good drawing), or dancing are all good ways to involve yourself with the material – the method of engagement is totally customizable.
Work in chunks. Pomodoro is a famous method of giving 100% for, say, 30 minutes and then taking a 5-15 minute break. This is helpful for two reasons: first, brains work much better in chunks. Studies often say that attention spans start going down after 20-30 minutes, so why waste time? Get a constant fresh start. Second, it’s so much easier to say to yourself “keep going for 10 more minutes” than “keep going until you’ve read all 80 slides in this PowerPoint”.
Make it fun! Use alternate, playful sources like CrashCourse. Use background music (or even background noise, like these recreations of cafes, Hogwarts common rooms, or rainy days). Find something that enjoyable about the class, no matter how terrible the subject or professor is – being positive will makes work about 10,000 times easier. Or, take notes or go through information in a way that’s entertaining to you. Make your notes satisfying and pretty, or dramatically read your textbook like you’re a Downton Abbey character, or make up stories for each lesson. However you can enjoy it, enjoy it. It can even help just to take the work somewhere pleasant – Sweetheart Circle, any of the local coffee shops, the library, etc.
Extra tips for online class:
Never hesitate to e-mail profs. One of the greatest drawbacks to online classes in the inability to fluidly ask questions like one could in class. Make up for this by e-mailing your professor when ever you have a question about anything. However, keep in mind that what’s written often sounds harsher than what’s spoken – there’s no tone or body language to aid what’s being said, so extra politeness never hurts over digital communication.
Try not to take heavy material online. Online classes are great, no doubt, but, as said above, it’s hard to get on the same level with the professor as in a person-person class. Don’t make this barrier an extra challenge in a class you’d be struggling with otherwise.
Set up Folio text alerts. You can do this by going to Folio, clicking on your name, clicking on ‘notifications’, and adding your mobile phone number. It’s possible to customize what you get alerts for, so you’re not getting unwanted messages. Note that Folio alerts don’t provide reminders for deadlines for discussions.
Alright, Eagles! Let’s get out there and have a great summer semester!
– University Wellness Program