“It’s the mooooossssst wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeaaarrrr…*
*humming in the key of Z-flat*
Yes folks , faster than you can say “OSAP”, we’re back to school. I’m convinced some of us are in denial about summer’s end, since I’ve noticed a few people still walking around campus in shorts, with a slightly befuddled expression that reads, “I was sure that the Summer Mixer was somewhere around here…I must have taken a left at the wrong corner”… As for the rest of us donned in the requisite layers of sweaters and tees, summer is now but a mournful memory. I’m sure that you spent yours just as psyched as I did, eagerly anticipating the return to deadlines, midterm preparation, and endless chapter readings to complete. Yaaaayyy.
Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy my summer. Between late night cookouts at my friends’ homes, checking out events at the Harbourfront, and discovering various hiking trails in my neighborhood, it was pretty memorable.
But wait – I’m jumping ahead of myself here – please forgive my bad manners…
My name’s Dara… and I’m happy to be one of the new bloggers here at Upbeat. I’m in my second year of a double major in sociology and equity studies. I’m classified as a “mature” (ugh) student. I came to the university through the Academic Bridging Program. With the help of Accessibility Services, I’ve recently uncovered a learning challenge and am actively working to move beyond it.
I spent sixteen years in Trinidad, basking in the glow of my mother’s home cooked Caribbean dishes. I worked as an occupational safety manager, and also bred fancy goldfish as a side business.
Fast forward to 2008: I took a leap of faith and left family, food, and fish behind and returned to my country of birth to finally get my degree. I’ve always wanted to attend the University of Toronto, and so it means a lot to me to be here now.
But I digress… time to get down to the meat of this post. In the spirit of the beginning of the school year – let’s talk organization. How do you “get your head right” for school?
Having a clear study plan is crucial. My partner, who’s currently pursuing her PhD here and knows a thing or two about being organized, sat down with me and helped me draft my study strategy. See below…
Dara’s Study Strategy
1. Skim chapter intro and summary, then sub headings.
2. Read 1 section of article. Pause. cover it and recall section’s gist in my own words, out loud.
3. Sketch a quick mind map of that section.
4. Cornell notes of section’s main points.
5. Repeat for next section.
Prior to this, I’d just pick up the book and start reading without a clear purpose. Now when I sit down I can easily glance at clear instructions on HOW to read to maximize my retention of the material.
Another weapon in my arsenal is the Cornell Note Taking System. Here’s a pic taken from my own notebook:
My notepaper is divided into three sections. I record my lecture or textbook notes in the right-hand column; keywords or prompt questions in the left hand column; and the bottom margin is where I write a three-sentence summary of everything on the page. Exam prep becomes a breeze – I just cover my right hand column and use the questions or prompts on the left to test myself. Voila!
To circumvent issues with memory, I enter all of my deadlines, assignments, and readings into my smartphone’s calendar.
In short, I mix and match a variety of tools. Different people will find different combinations of techniques useful. If you find any of my tips useful, find a way to adapt them to your particular learning style.
This said – I’d like to hear from you! What study techniques do you use? Let’s share/compare/barter! Or simply drop me a line to say “hi”. And look out for me again next week!