Plans for Next Semester
Winter break is almost over and I’ve gotten some much needed sleep! I’ve also had time to reflect on my first semester at Vanderbilt and I’m surprised at how much I’ve grown and improved in many areas of my life. I’ve also realized that there’s a lot of room for improvement especially in my studying and test preparation skills. I’ve heard many freshmen say they never needed to study this hard before. They would just glance through their notes a few days before the test and they would get an A. Personally, I feel like I have to refine how I studied and prepared in high school. It was effective there, but I think I need a slightly different plan for college. Fortunately, there’s tons of help available if you need it. These are a few strategies I’m going to try next semester:
- Going to office hours
I know. I know. Everyone tells you this. Like everyone. During the last semester, I felt that I had to have a huge problem before I could go for office hours, but I’ve realized that you could even just go over a concept you learned in class or a problem you already solved. And if you’re lost in the class, you could tell your professor or TA that and they’ll guide you. Trust me, you won’t regret going.
- Forming study groups
I’ve never really been into study groups because I felt that I worked better on my own, but I’ve decided to join a study group for Calc I and Gen Chem II. From what I’ve been told, study groups hold you accountable for doing your work and helping others in the group. I’m looking forward to trying this since it’s quite different from how I usually study.
- Improving my note-taking skills
My notes have always been a jumbled mess of scribblings and occasional doodles. This has worked well for me in the past, but I’ve decided to use an organized note-taking system to see if this will make looking at my notes easier and less distracting. I haven’t found one yet but I’m open to any suggestions you guys might have.
- Scheduling Better
Just before arriving for orientation, I bought a ton of stuff including a daily planner. After three weeks, I had no idea where my planner was, and I began writing to-do lists on random index cards on my desk. This organized/disorganized system sort of worked for me but I figured I needed to start putting my lists somewhere I could refer to them later. I have a new planner (which I love!) for next semester. I think it’ll be very helpful with organizing all the things I need to do weekly. I might also give Google Calendar a try.
- Studying daily
I’ve fallen into the habit of studying only when I have tests coming up. I feel that if I studied just a little a day that would help me a lot. My biggest problem with this is commitment especially when the middle of the semester rolls in. At this point, I’ll be worn out and the idea of studying daily will be unappealing especially when I don’t have any tests coming up. I’ll update you about this but hopefully, I stick with it.
- Checking out the Academic Support Services Vandy offers
Vanderbilt offers so many support services that you are encouraged to take advantage of. Tutoring services offers tutoring sessions with qualified staff who will guide you through any coursework you bring to them. The Center for Student Wellbeing offers one-on-one academic skills coaching sessions as well as Study Skills and Time Management workshops. The Writing Studio offers appointments with trained staff who help you with your essays and papers. I plan to take full advantage of these support services next semester.
- Using fine point pens
I’ve realized that this is a really important part of my education. Last semester, my pens were all medium point and I found it hard to write with them. Because of this, I wrote mostly with pencils. Paired with how disorganized my notes were, this didn’t end well. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of a good fine point pen.
This was a long list but I’m going to implement each strategy next semester. I would love to hear any strategies any of you have for studying better or any questions you might have.
Happy New Year!