Thursday, November 17, 2011

Study Habits 101

One of the hardest things to do in engineering is getting an A.  Sure, it could easier because you enjoy learning about it.  And some would argue that getting A’s in engineering is overrated (there are some reasons for this, but many of them don’t make sense).  However, there are just those classes that you don’t get.  So below are Serena’s Ways to Getting A’s, based on her own strategy.  Someone told me I should write a book about my strategy; I guess this is close enough.  Disclaimer: I’m not promising this to anyone.  But your grades will rise if you are disciplined enough.

Work a 40 hour week.  I adopted this when I actually had 20 units, aka 20 hours of school per week.  Say, on average, you have school (class and office hours) for 4 hours per day, you would only need to study about 4 hours per day.  To be honest, this isn’t a lot of time.  If you do this, you’ll find out how much time you waste now.

Write down your study hours.  Be honest with yourself!  If you actually didn’t study, don’t write down those hours.  At the end of the week, you will either say, “Wow, I should/could have done more!”

Devote study time for studying.  I know this sounds stupid.  However, anytime you look around the library, I guarantee that about ¼ of the people are on facebook.  Just study now, and get it over with!

Set a time goal.  Instead of saying, “I’ll get my paper/homework/project done today,” say, “In two hours, I will have XYZ done.” Treat it is as real deadline.  Although you probably won’t get it all done, you still devoted those two hours to work, instead of meddling around on facebook.

Create a large To-Do list.  This only works for people that really like to see everything they have to do.  I love seeing how many things I can cross off my list.  I leave school at 5 and say, “Wow, I did a lot today.”

Separate school from home.  Many people study at home.  I understand this.  But psychology says that we can separate the mindsets.  Do all of your work in the library/lab/classroom/office.  Then go home at the end of the day, and leave your school-mind at school.  This really helped me with my school-anxiety, and I probably will never study at home again (unless I absolutely have to pull an all-nighter).

Do all of your homework…by the time it’s “due.”  I know that a lot of classes don’t have homework that’s “due.”  However, make your “due date” the day/time of the professor’s/TA’s office hours.  This keeps you accountable with the weekly stuff, and you’ll only have to review it when it comes time for the midterm.

Go to office hours.  Don’t just go to office hours; be prepared for office hours!  Ask lots of questions- annoying questions. (Well don’t actually be annoying, but if you don’t “get it,” say so!!!)   Have your questions ready!  Understand every component of the problem/solution before you ask your question.  Then if the TA says, “well I would do ____,” you can counter it with, “I already did that.”

If you don’t understand something, find the question in the book and complete similar questions.  Another thing people don’t do.  This is why you paid $150 for that textbook!  You didn’t spend the money to do 10 problems.  Instead of just giving up, ask your TA/professor about those similar questions; it may just ring a bell on that previous question.

Make office-hour friends.  Usually the people at office hours (like the ones that go religiously, like you should be doing) are working just as hard, if not harder, than YOU.  I have a couple of these friends (they are rare).  But once, an office-hour friend and I figured out the solution to a problem with the TA there.  The TA literally had no clue.  It was a great moment. 

Make friends with your professor.  Now this is helpful for people of any caliber.  I don’t mean for you to smooze with your professor.  I strongly dislike these people.  However, think about it from a professor’s perspective.  If she’s never seen you before, she probably won’t feel bad when she gives you a D or F…or even that B+.  If you show your face and look excited about the subject, the professor is going to relate to you.  They may say, “Well, she probably had a bad testing day.”  INSTANT GRADE BOOST!  I’m not saying all professors are like this, but they are less likely to be cruel if they at least recognize you.

I hope this helps.  If you would like me to elaborate or if you have critiques, let me know.:-)

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