When I was younger I read a lot of books, loved to study and always got good grades. Hermione Granger was probably my biggest example. I thought it was so cool how she knew everrrrything and was always one step ahead of the boys. She kicked ass and she was awesome doing so! Being a nerd suddenly wasn’t so bad anymore.
Nowadays I’m up to my eyeballs in study material and I have to say… sometimes I feel like throwing those books out of the window. I still have one or two years to go though! Luckily I can draw from five years of past experience. That still doesn’t mean I always study when I should. Whoops. Sometimes you just need a little kick in the butt to finally go and finish up that essay. At least I know I do.
Well, attention fellow students! Here are some tips and tricks I picked up on along the way. Some things are probably very “The Pope is catholic” and “Miley has a tongue (and likes to show it)”, other things are the ones I wish I had known about sooner. Maybe you will get something from it as well or maybe you won’t. What might work for me, might not work for you. Feel free to leave your own tips and tricks in the comments. Let’s go!
1. plan ahead and manage the workload by dividing it into smaller pieces
The prospect of having to write a thesis or just a regular big essay can be a bit daunting. Doing research, deciding on a research subject, doing some more research, coming up with a writing structure and of course: the actual writing. The thing I always try to do when faced with such a daunting task is dividing it into smaller tasks. Sounds super simple and yes, it kind of is!
Let’s say I have an essay due in three months, but have to present it to my class the third week of november and I haven’t started yet (this is just hypothetical…… of course… ahem). Instead of being intimidated and freaking out and writing everything in the last week, I try to make it easier for myself and plan ahead. On monday I look up three sources and on tuesday as well. That’s all I do for that day, nothing more, nothing less. On thursday I try and come up with a structure for my essay. On saturday I write an introduction and on sunday I assign myself to write 200 words. These are all very small and manageable tasks. Instead of freaking out about having to write a whole essay and because of that freak-out not having done anything at the end of the day, this is a way better solution. This also works for exams or any other schoolwork. I use this method all the time and can’t do it any other way now. Way better for my blood pressure ;-)
2. READ THE ASSIGNED LITERATURE
This is going to be annoying and I’m going to sound just like your teacher, but it has to be done: read the assigned literature!!! Do it!!! Not only will it help you keep up with what’s being said in class, you will also be able to process it better (because it’s not all new to you, you’ve read about it already!). As a result you will get more out of your class. And let’s not forget about that exam that’s coming up at the end of the course. For this one class I’m taking I have to read an average of 300 pages a week and it’s all scientific literature. It’s kind of boring and well, let’s just say it’s no Harry Potter. Imagine you had to read all that in the few days you have before your exam. My exam is coming up in two weeks and if I hadn’t kept up with all of the reading by now, wow… That would be awful. I would probably feel the same as Harry when he had to come up with a spell to swim under water for 1,5 hours… (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire reference, sorry non-Potterheads). Long story short: just read the assigned literature! And in my experience it also helps to print everything instead of reading it of the screen. You can write in the margins and get little sticky notes to highlight the important pages.