- Get Off your Computer and Take Notes
Technology is fantastic and has become an excellent tool for education. Having your laptop handy is useful in case you have to research a quick fact, exchange information with your classmates, or use dictionary.com if your professor uses words like “ad-hoc” or “ubiquitous” (like, okay we get it, you know fancy words). Though if you truly want to retain information, you need to switch from a keyboard to a pen.
The countless studies that have been done surrounding the benefit of taking notes by hand is ubiquitous (did I use it right?). It undoubtedly helps you retain information more than taking notes on your laptop. I can speak from personal experience that the classes I did better in were the ones that I took hand-written notes. Even though the notes were smudged and left my left-hand tattooed with black ink, I ultimately did better on exams and assignments.
- The 8-Hour Rule
Chances are, if you were anything like me during my years at SMU, being in university challenges your time-management skills. It feels like you are constantly busy, always self-doubting yourself because you feel like you haven’t studied enough, and feel guilty every time you binge watch netflix for a few hours instead of studying. These thoughts can leave you with a knot in your stomach that is, quite frankly, bad for your self-esteem and stress levels. A simple trick I didn’t learn until I was in my senior year is the “8-Hour Rule”.
Think about when you graduate: you are more than likely to get a job where you go to work for eight hours and get to come home, cook a meal, and not have to think about work until 9am the next day. Sounds nice right? Well, it is not all that impossible in university, too. The trick is to only do work eight hours a day, no more and no less. This includes class-time, studying, volunteer work, and other school-related activities. If you also have a job like I did during university, you can factor in those hours too if it works for you. The point of this is, once you have successfully completed eight hours of work, I can guarantee you will feel less guilt when you take a few hours to yourself.
- Challenge your Professors for Higher Marks
Too many times in your academic career you are going to get an exam or an assignment back where you will look at it and go, “What? Why is that wrong!” or “Ugh, that’s definitely a trick question!”. It is quite a painful experience, especially when you were confident in your answers and you invested $20 in a coffee and a ceasar wrap at Just Us so you could study a little longer on campus. What is even more painful is when a professor gives you a low participation mark. Like, I was here wasn’t I?!
I can tell you from personal experience that asking your professor to reconsider the grade they gave you works four out of five times. While it seems terrifying because you are putting yourself in such a vulnerable position, if your argument is reasonable enough they are going to work in your favour. In case you forget, your professor wants you to succeed and if you put enough effort in to challenge them, they are going to respect you for it (yes I have done this, and yes it works). If you believe you deserve a mark, then ask for it.
Sara Little, Alumna