Disclosure: This post is brought to you by McGraw Hill Education.
As many of you already know, I’m currently studying Media and Communications at NYU. It’s been a long journey for me, from starting back in Belarus and Russia, attending NYC’s community college, and finally getting transferred to NYU. Over the course of my college adventures, I managed to become a decent student, regardless which language I was required to speak (learn how I learned English in this post). I recently did a poll on Instagram Stories where I asked you guys if you want to hear about my tips and tricks on making it through college—so there you have it! Style Sprinter’s tried and proved college survival tips.
Paper and Pixel
When it comes to college deadlines, I always make sure to have them on paper. Meaning, I have a tiny college agenda where I keep all my assignment due dates in one place as well as homework directions. When I first started at NYU, I was keeping everything online—in Google Calendar, but this method didn’t prove to work as I already have my calendar overbooked with all the blogging and personal notifications.
These days, I have a cute thin agenda where I can jot down my assignments and even use stickers to motivate myself when there is an important project that I need to start working on sooner than later. For the purposes of staying organized in college, I recommend a monthly agenda as you need to see all of your deadlines at one glance. I used to have a mix of daily and monthly pages, but I quickly learned that I don’t use the daily pages so these days I just buy one of these simple monthly agendas you could find at any office supplies shop and it’s all I need.
I also have a separate online calendar where I put notifications for all of my deadlines just in case I’ve been procrastinating on starting my college papers way ahead of the deadline. I put the reminder on the due date and send myself an email and push notifications starting a week prior to the deadline. Usually, seven days is enough when it comes to researching, writing, and editing a paper.
When it comes to bigger projects (like a final paper that we work on throughout the semester), I set up one day a week where I dedicate 2-4 hours toward working on the final project. By being on top of the game and scheduling study time way before the deadline, I’m able to avoid all the stress associated with the finals week. Meaning, I might still have some tests to prepare for, but at least I’m all set with the written section of the course! I can’t tell you how liberating that feeling is!
Choose Smart Textbooks
Ever since I started studying in the U.S., I completely changed my opinion about online books. I remember how our professors required to bring an actual book for each of my 5 daily classes back in Russia, and it was just a torture. News flash: regular textbooks are heavy! So, when I came to the U.S. I immediately switched to online books as these are not only as light as the device you use them on (think: a smartphone!), but also give you so much more than just pure knowledge divided into chapters and paragraphs.
I first started using a new interactive platform Connect by McGraw Hill Education back at the community college where I took a French class. It took me years to learn a new language so I was super excited that the platform included not just your typical grammar lessons and practice exercises, but also interactive quizzes and native speaker conversation modes that helped me to grasp the gist of the language quicker. I remember doing practice tests and exercises almost every single day and thinking how helpful these would be if I used them to study English back in the day.
The best part about this whole system is that you literally could study anywhere you go. Spending an afternoon at the coffee shop? How about reading a textbook and highlight important moments right there, in your online textbook? Taking a long commute? Why not take a few practice quizzes for your upcoming test? To say the least, the Connect system is one of the most convenient I’ve ever used so if you have an option to pick it for your upcoming class, I highly recommend it!
The Ramen Noodle Trick
I asked my boyfriend Ben if he has any college survival tips to share and all he said was, “Roman Noodles!” I couldn’t stop laughing at this affordable and easy to prepare dish seems to be a universal student food. I used to eat it all the time back in Russia! Times have changed though and today, when I learned about a zero to nothing nutritional value of prepackaged meals, I advise you to avoid ramen noodle at all costs. Instead, try incorporating as many healthy snacks as you could – and that type of healthy diet will give you the boost of energy that you need so much for studying.
I’m very OCD and boring about food that I eat while studying and in college. In case you don’t know, I’m following a vegan diet and I also try eating gluten-free so for most of the part eating at college is not an option for me. I do have a few tips on how to pick a snack to keep you energized and not starving while in the class.
First and foremost, I tend to avoid any caffeinated drinks while in the class. These make me too energized which is not always optimal while you are listening to a lecture. Instead, I opt-in for a hot peppermint tea with lemon that boosts your energy level in a natural, not in a jittery way, but also promotes good digestion. I also try not eating a big meal before the class as these make me sleepy and I experience problems of concentrating in class.
My perfect before the class meal is a bowl of quinoa or rice with a side of salad or steamed veggies. I love bringing with me a banana and a pack of raw cashews or almonds for an in-between class snack: banana gives you energy and nuts provide proteins and fats that are so important for keeping your brain working. I also try drinking water during the class and on the breaks or substitute it with mint tea during the cold season.
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There you have it: some of my tips and tricks on how to survive college. While I was planning on sharing a lot of different tricks, I decided to include just three for now but to go into details. I believe that this way this post is more than just a list of things to consider but rather an in-depth guide. I look forward to hearing your feedback on that type of posts! If you like it, I’ll make sure to share more college surviving strategies that I use. Thank you for reading!