By: Marisa Borreggine
Campus Sherpa Staff Writer, University of Washington
Set aside a Syllabus Day
At the beginning of every quarter, I sit down with each syllabus for my new classes and schedule like no one ever has. Take it one syllabus at a time and check out the schedule the teacher has laid out and write down your homework (reading assignments, due dates, test dates) for every day of that quarter. That way you don’t have to think about that assignment or fear missing a deadline until the day you’ve scheduled yourself to think about it! It lifts a great weight off your shoulders and makes you feel so much more prepared for the class you’re walking into
Addendum to Syllabus Day
Whilst putting together the aforementioned beautiful syllabus that will make your life 1000x easier, remember that assigned homework is not the only thing you need to stay on top of! I put test dates in a big highlighted box for each class, then backtrack two to three weeks in my agenda and write ‘make a study schedule.’ It’s hard to predict what kind of studying you’ll need to do for a class early on, or even for each test as the class moves along and material changes. This way, again, you know you won’t have to worry about being prepared for the test because you have that little reminder to get ready! Some of my favorite go-to study methods are highlighting my important notes and re-copying them a few times, making really detailed quizlets and testing myself mad, and reviewing lecture slides with a friend from the class. Usually we take turns off and on reminding each other the important notes about each slide—talking about the material and explaining it to someone else really helps you retain it!
Don’t forget the essentials
You’re a busy college student—admit it, there have been times where you’ve forgotten to eat. Well, that agenda can yet again come in handy. Freshman year you usually have constant access to food, time between classes, you live on campus or very close, and that shiny meal plan card. Once you move out, and especially if you’re someone like me that lives a 30 minute walk from campus, you’ll find you spend only the hours where you’re sleeping and showering at your actual house. I can be on campus for anywhere between 6 to 13 hours in a day, and you’re going to have a pretty bad time if you don’t bring snacks! Write in a big highlighted box as a homework assignment, “pack snacks and lunch!” on the day before those long days. You’ll thank yourself after your two hour lecture and two hour lab back-to- back classes when all you really want is a banana.
There are not enough words in the English language for me to emphasize this enough—make a meal plan every week. It truly changed my day to day life and made my schedule and mind so much less cluttered. Here’s how I do it—every Sunday, I open up my notepad on my phone labelled with the days of the week. I erase last week’s meals and put in what I want to eat for lunch and dinner each day that week. Then, I go to my larger checkbox grocery list note and fill up on the essentials—snacks, fruit, milk, etc. This works really well for me because I don’t mind eating the same kind of breakfast every day—if you keep a solid supply of fruit, eggs, milk, bread, and cereal you can switch it up when you’re feeling something new. Smoothies have been my go-to breakfast this summer. I pack pretty much the same lunch every day (in reused jam and pasta jars and a reusable sandwich bag, by the way. Less plastic the better!), a sandwich, some chips, an apple, a peach, some pretzels, whatever I’m feeling will fill me up that day. I set reminders in my phone to defrost my fish the night before and move my veggies to the front of the fridge if that’s what I’m having that night. It’ll make your day less scatterbrained and make sure you get the nutrition you need!
Wake up earlier.
I don’t care if it takes you five melatonin pills to get to sleep at a normal time, start going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier too! Yes, it’s painful at first, but once you get a good breakfast in you and a nice walk (to the gym, to class, round the neighborhood, round your house, do some yoga in your room, etc) you will than yourself for the extra time. I used to wake up at 5:30 and do my homework every day winter quarter, which sounds hellish now, but only because I got so used to it that waking up at 6:30 now feels like sleeping in. Your body is capable of amazing things, especially if you give yourself some extra hours in the day to do those things! I don’t drink caffeine and I wake up at 6 every day, so chug that coffee and get going because if I can do it, you can too. Good luck!