Now that I have officially survived my first year, I’ve spent some time reflecting on my overall experience and compiled a list of the top things that helped me out.
There’s a lot of readings… don’t fall behind!
At first, the assigned readings did not seem intimidating; Readings for one course usually ranged from 10-20 pages. However, factoring in that I had 5 courses (which is typical for a student) and piles of homework, I quickly found myself falling behind on readings during the first couple weeks of class. Over time, I found that allocating time to complete readings before class worked really well for me. This way, come test time, I didn’t need to spend hours and hours trying to read 50+ pages about proteins in one sitting (which can be quite overwhelming if I do say so myself).
Make the most out of Reading week
Like all first-years, it was tempting to put my books aside during reading week since it *finally* felt like I had time to relax. Instead, I dedicated time to catch up on work and to read ahead. Looking back, I’m really glad I was productive during Reading week because I was able to relieve some of the stress that came when exam season started.
Past midterms are useful tools
Past midterms are available for a reason, and I took advantage of it! Although midterms change every year, I found doing the past midterms a couple days before the actual test extremely helpful. Not only did it help me become familiar with the actual format of the test and the types of questions, it helped me pinpoint the areas where I needed help. After completing past midterms, I would often have a list of questions that I could then find answers to. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that some of the questions on the actual midterm are taken from past midterms.
Mental health is important too!
It was so easy to fall into an endless cycle of going to class, taking notes, coming back home, doing the readings and homework, and then preparing for the next day. I realized that this routine didn’t work for me. Not only was this bad for my well-being, but I also wasn’t able to truly enjoy my time at the university. I learned that I should allocate time for myself to avoid burning myself out. I know this is easier said than done, but I found that I enjoyed my university life much more after doing so.
Good luck to everyone entering first year! Hopefully you can quickly find what routine or study habits work best for you!