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The Master's Piece


Tips on Preparing and Having a Successful Academic Semester

The New Year has finally set its course and many are enjoying the last couple of days before school resumes again; whether middle, high, or college level. Many will enroll in classes for the first time or the same class for the fourth time. Being enrolled into college has taught me many valuable lessons and experience about myself and how I stay motivated to pass a class. As the spring semester starts, it is best to have a strategy in order to have a very prosperous academic semester.

  1. Time management: Time management is the ability to plan and ultimately take control of how a person spends the hours of the day to accomplish daily tasks and goals. As you graduate from high school and soon begin to take college classes and work, managing your time will be the most important thing you must do. Time management can be very stressful; however, it is very important especially when you are trying to pass a class. Purchasing a planner or creating a study schedule will definitely be a great investment for you to pass a class. My first year of college was a huge lesson for me. I was a full-time student, taking about five classes and I was very active with a club I as in at my school. However, I had poor time management skills. For example, I would miss assignments and deadlines for papers because I was practicing for the dance team I was a part of. I would not study and fail quizzes and tests. Ultimately, at the end of the semester I failed three classes and barely passed one class with a C. Resulting in my Grade Point Average going down to a 1.8. Monitoring your time will increase your chances of passing the material and getting the desired grade. After retaking classes and monitoring my time, I now have a 3.48 Grade Point Average.

  2. Utilizing student resources: Whether enrolled at a community college or public/private university, there will always be student resources to be used during the semester. Tutoring, supplement instructors, teacher’s assistant, and even studying seminars are just a few. As a college student, part of your tuition goes towards student resources so it very important to utilize its services to get your money’s worth. A couple of semesters ago, I was enrolled in a chemistry class. I have not taken chemistry since high school, so not everything was easy for me to grasp. I eventually spent my days at the tutoring center at my school and with studying and visiting my assigned SI for my class, I went from a 43% to 80% as my final grade.

  3. Studying habits: Creating proactive study habits is essential in order to have a successful semester. Find a quiet, calm location to study. Do not study in your room on your bed! As silly as this may sound, studying on your bed decreases your chances of having a successful study session. You will be too relax to the point where you want to fall asleep. A bookstore is a great place to study even your school library or public library. Studying at home was not a good choice for me because of the distractions my family brings. Limit distractions as best as possible. Place phone on do not disturb or silence. Never vibrate. Before beginning to study, give yourself a time on how long you want to study a specific chapter. For example, I was taking Biology I last semester and like many science classes, you are required to teach yourself all the material. I wrote down which chapters I would study for a specific day and for how long and I would give myself a break. You can take only so much information in! Breaks are just as important as studying. Stretch and get some water or eat some food.

  4. Quick essay hacks: I enjoy writing so English classes were a breeze for me. Certain tips I could give regarding essays would be to plan before you start typing. When you have something written down once you start typing, you are able to add on to what you have on the paper. Most college papers are double-spaced, when typing set it to single-spaced! Setting it to single space tricks your brain into writing more so when you actually have three full pages on single-spaced, once you change the settings to double, you already have 5-6 pages!

  5. Learn grade criteria: When first beginning a class for the semester, professors will hand out a syllabus, which is a paper that will have very important information regarding what book/materials is needed for the class, the professor’s office hours, date/deadlines of when assignments are due, exam dates, and grading criteria. Each professor is different, but it is very important to get familiar with your professor grading system early on because there are certain cases were you may not be able to turn something in or you may not want to do an assignment. Learning how much each assignment weights towards your final grade can help you understand the resulting effect of your final grade if a quiz is not completed or assignment is not submitted. Certain professors do not input all the assignments and quizzes until the final week of classes, so being knowledgeable to their grading system will show you what your grade is during the semester.

  6. Encourage yourself: Going to college can be overwhelming and there are time when you feel like everyone else in the class is smarter or better than you are. Remember college is not a race. If you have to take a class a second time it is not the end of the world, assets the situation, change your habits, and commit to the studies. You can do this. You are a conquer. You made it this far. The only opponent you have is the one staring back at you in the mirror.

May this be a successful and prosperous academic semester for you!

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