New (study)-years resolutions

Who says it has to be January 1st to start new habits? Here are some of my resolutions for the new school year:

1.       Use professors office hours

This first resolution is something I’ve read on a lot of study blogs, and will probably be one of my biggest hurdles, as I find asking for help really difficult. My go-to response when I’m unsure about something is googling it for 5 hours, when I could have spent 5 minutes after class asking the professor the same question.

2.       Don’t be afraid to ask questions

This is in the same realm as the first resolution, and is something that I need to work on. So many of my notes have “google it later” or “???” written next to them, and by just being proactive in class, I might not need to stay those extra five minutes afterwards.

3.       Use folders

I'm reusing last years literature folders, so just imagine these same folders, but with a new index glued to the front.

I'm reusing last years literature folders, so just imagine these same folders, but with a new index glued to the front.

I’ve already started using this method, and this is to encourage me to go over my notes, and see what is missing, add good illustrations, and revise before the next class. I’ve divided the folder into notes from class, handouts, and assignments. Right now, I only have notes from the first bio-lesson, and the handout for the group assignment, but even though this isn’t a huge block (which I will write more about this Sunday), I figure that by using folders I will have everything in one place, and it will be easy to index and sort through. One of the second-year students told me that a lot of the classes are held in achronological order, so folders will be a great way to sort the notes into categories.

4.       Research whether flashcards are a good way for me to study

This isn’t so much a resolution as it is an experiment. I used to blog about study techniques, evaluate what kind of work strategies worked best for me, and give pointers on how you could conduct the same type of research on your own. I still believe that study techniques should be its own subject in school, but I won’t go off on that tangent. I’ve seen a lot of great videos on flash cards lately, from a study blogger I highly recommend, College Info Geek, and I think it could be really useful for subjects where you have to memorize a lot of info, like in cell biology, which is our third block. If you’re interested in trying out flash-cards for yourself, or just want some good resources on it, I’ll embed some videos below for you to check out.

 

5.       Learn things well enough that I can teach it to someone else (who isn’t studying veterinary medicine)

“Men learn while they teach” Seneca the Younger wrote in his Letters to Lucillius, and odds are you’ve probably noticed that the topics you’ve had to give presentations on or help your friends with are the ones you remember the most of. Learning to simplify, and create analogies for difficult concepts, means that you have to know the matter at hand well enough to not only memorize it, but also understand it at its core. The student advisory office told us to learn the basics first, and actually practice by saying what you’ve learned every day out loud. I’m thinking that if I have to explain it to someone without the same background, they won’t be able to fill in the blanks if I’m using “foggy” language, which forces me to learn it more thoroughly.

6.       Make a great colloquium group

Last week our second-year “buddies” urged all the new students to form good study groups, as they said you almost wouldn’t be able to get through the entire syllabus by yourself. I don’t know if this is true for every subject, but I can definitely see their point in some of the major blocks. Also, being good at cooperating and team work is a great life skill in general, and the groups will probably be a good place for us to commiserate when exam season draws near.

7.       Don’t get overwhelmed

My main way of dealing with this is always staying ahead of schedule. I’ll probably do an entry on how I do this some other time, because it involves a lot of systems, a corkboard, two notebooks, a day planner, my calendar, and about a thousand reminders and alarms on my phone. And it’s sort of an ever-changing beast of a system, which I’m never fully satisfied with, so until I get it sorted out I’ll try to not get overwhelmed by just doing all my coursework, and not working after a set time at night.

8.       Make every day a “non-zero” day

What I mean by a “non-zero” day is that I do a bit of coursework or revising every day, even if it ends up just being five minutes. Preferably, I’d like to do at least an hour or two of work, but I’ll start of by simply aiming at “more than nothing”. I did an “X-effect”-experiment over on my study blog before summer vacation, and had some pretty good results. So if you’re looking for a way to motivate yourself to work every day, I highly recommend the X-effect template over on my old blog. You can click the link here to find the template and explanation post.

I had planned a more structured post, with a lot more useful references, but I’m going to have to cut this entry short, as the school newspaper is hosting a party tonight, and I need to get ready in about ten minutes!