Back To School // University Study Tips & Tricks
For many of you who are studying internationally in other countries, I don’t know whether your school year has recently started or if you’ve just gotten back into a semester/term but in Australia, our university semester started about 2 weeks ago. This year is my third and second last year of gruelling university and I cannot wait for it to be over! While this semester started, I thought I might give you guys some tips and tricks on how to get through it all since I feel like I’ve got quite a bit of experience now.
This is also applicable to others in high school, especially those taking the VCE or other Australian states’ academic year 12 subjects because these tips are partially how I managed to do really well in high school and end up with an ATAR score of 95+ (I promise I’m not bragging, I was legit shook I managed to get that myself).
Note that these tips will be quite general and not specifically tips for actually studying. Everyone studies differently!
Tip 1: Get Organised
I know everyone has probably already read this tip everywhere and of course, the stationary and planner industry is always booming but seriously, getting a diary and writing down due dates, your homework and what you need to do (to do lists are a must for me), is essential to doing well. It means you know what’s coming up and what you need to get done and you can manage your time a lot more effective than just relying on your memory.
I have changed how I organise myself about 20 times in the last 5 years and you might never find exactly something to stick to because your studying circumstances will often change. Currently, I just have a tiny little A6 weekly diary from Kikki. K and my good old notepad for my to-do lists. I use a google calendar widget to see everything in a monthly view and also have many to do lists on my phone for everything in my life. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be as easy as just the one diary if it’s not the note space but it can also be as complicated as you want it to be. Organisation is unique and flexible to everyone.
Tip 2: Follow The Program
This is very important in every unit I’ve taken and every subject in high school as well. Unit Outlines, Study Designs or whatever they may be called should be your bible because it literally states all the important info you need to do well in your subject. Most of them have all the assignments, their due dates, how much they value (30% of your grade etc.) and even more. For my university, it’s even got a week by week outline of every topic we cover each week and the weekly readings, so having this outline/document is extremely valuable. I like to print mine out so I can highlight each week as it’s done and have it physically in my hands to refer to like a book.
Tip 3: Be Ahead of The Game
Similar to above, every subject you’ll take will generally give you a grading criterion for an assignment. This can be in a table or written out but this is written proof of what your teacher/tutor will be looking for in the assignment. If you give them that, you’ll rack up all the marks to get yourself a good grade because you will have followed what is essential and needed in that assignment.
I always look at any assignment criteria in a lot of detail to make sure that I’ve hit everything I need to in the assignment and it makes it super easy to know what you need to include in general as well.
Tip 4: Take It – One Day At A Time
School or university can be overwhelming. Your workload could be immense and vary across your subjects. What literally got me through every semester is just taking it one day at a time. There’s no point in stressing about that huge assignment due in 5 weeks as well as another one for the same subject due in one week. Look at what’s due the closest and slowly work your way up. If it’s about studying and remembering material, pick something every day and work logically.
This also ties into another smaller tip to remember to sleep. If it’s 11 pm, you have to get up early in the morning, just go to sleep. There’s no point in studying more now when your brain is tired when you can get up a little earlier to finish/continue it.
Tip 5: Exploit All Your Resources
Schools and Universities have libraries and teachers and usually online resources for you to exploit. There is so much out there that you can use and all you need to do is find it. I found that in high school, teachers were the best thing because these are the people who are grading your assignments – get as much info as you can from them on how to achieve the best results.
Tip 6: Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment
When it comes to the actual studying itself, everyone has different ways to get their work done and study different types of material. That being said, don’t be scared to venture out and experiment with how you study. I have tried out so many things like watching Crash Course youtube videos, teaching my cat, writing something out a dozen times, making and doing quizzes for myself, flashcards, there are hundreds of ways out there and if you don’t try them, you might not find something that’s even more effective than how you’re studying right now.
Tip 7: Art/Design Folio Work
For design subjects (like what I’ve mostly done at university), folios are a lot different to more academic subjects because it involves a lot of time and effort (and often tedious work – hello annotations) and the best tip I can give you is to do a little bit every day if you can. Create your own little calendar of what you need to do each week – often, most units will be planned so that you’re doing that anyway in a systematic and logical way as you go through the semester.
If you’re feeling creatively drained (like I have for most of my university career), don’t be afraid to take a step back, take a breather and get inspiration from other things. Whether it’s looking at Pinterest, to brainstorming with friends, with a TV show, or checking out crazy projects on Behance, you can do it! It may seem like cheating if you’re getting ideas from other people’s work (please don’t plagiarise) but it’s not if it’s inspiring you to create something new, unique and different for your project. There’s this pretty cool and short book I read a year ago called Steal Like An Artist that I highly recommend for getting some mojo back and not feeling to bad about looking at other people’s work for inspiration. Not everyone can just come up with amazing ideas quickly or efficiently for a project, I’m a person that’s pretty shit at that! So, you can do it.
Do you have any cool university/school study tips you’d like to share?
What did you think of mine?
Until next time,