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Your Student Survival Guide

Meeting deadlines, adapting to new environments, meeting new people and living away from your family for perhaps the first time, being a student, especially during your first year at college, may seem daunting. New environments lead to new stresses and unfamiliar situations, but with this list of advice and list, you’ll have a few things to keep in mind to make your time at university as stress-free and as fun as possible!

Study techniques

Everyone studies differently, and whether you believe the research on the different study styles or not, there are certainly many ways to make studying as efficient and even as much fun as possible.

It might be as simple as whipping out those multi-colored markers and post-it notes, and who doesn’t love some cute stationery? Studying needn’t be desperation-induced, and sleep-deprivation driven, plus pulling all-nighters may not be the most effective way of working.

One of the ways to approach this is by managing your time efficiently. Work out when your classes and lectures are and plan around that schedule, making sure to keep up with the materials, so you don’t find yourself cramming entire modules into your memory a few days before the exam.

Space out your learning into modules or topics, whichever you see fit, rather than cramming every information in one go. Space your learning over days, weeks and even months, with plenty of time to go over the information you’ve digested to ensure that they’re instilled in your memory. Furthermore, splitting your study material into chunks will mean you’re learning everything but not overloading your brain with information all at once, decreasing stress as a result.

You can even give yourself incentives to motivate you to complete that dreaded paper or finish revising that module. Whatever keeps you feeling good and motivated, something that distracts your brain for a while, like taking a few hours off to catch lunch with a friend or go for a walk. Don’t forget to take breaks between studying and don’t neglect your sleep!

There are many techniques to make memorizing bits of information easier. One of which is mnemonics. If you studied music as a child, then you’ll remember the notes on a scale using “Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit” (E-G-B-D-F). This technique helps make chunks of information easier to remember by breaking them down into smaller pieces.

Another method, one used by contestants in the World Memory Championships is the memory palace technique, also called the “method of loci.” Featured in shows such as BBC’s Sherlock where the famed detective imagined his memory palace as a courtroom and the defendants as areas of information, your memory palace can be any location at all. It can be a place you know well, like your house or the route you take to get to campus. In certain areas of this route you place the information you need to remember and you re-trace this path, you encounter these pieces again and again and will instill itself in your memory. This method is supported by scientific evidence that found an improvement in memory using this approach and relies partly on the idea that our hippocampus, the area in our brain that deals with memories, is also important for navigation.

Work out what works best for you

Some students might work best when the sun is out, the early-risers, while others work best when everyone’s asleep and the night is quiet, the night-owls. Maybe you work best alone, with no distractions from peers or you work best in a group where you can share and discuss ideas with others.

You might work best with a set timetable for study, coupled with exact time limits or you might work with ideas scattered all over the place, as they say, there’s a method in the madness. It’s okay if you’re the only one who understands it. There is no right or wrong way of approaching study. As long as it works for you, then keep going!

Pick the perfect place and time that works for you, whether that be in your bedroom or the library. Some may find studying in their bedrooms distracting so will need to relocate somewhere with space and quiet to better concentrate. University campuses usually have designated study areas where their students can study in peace and libraries have silent areas.

If you end up finding yourself more comfortable studying in your bedroom or in a similar study space, you can decorate the room to feel happy and inspired with photos and objects. Maybe listen to music or light a scented candle. A quick search on Youtube will lead you to various playlists perfect for a chill study session.

Joining societies/sororities

Joining societies and sororities is one way of making strong friendships at college. Not only will you meet some interesting people and maybe make friends that you never know you would, but this is also the perfect time to form connections.

College will be full of challenges and obstacles, and having that strong support group of people whom you trust and can freely confide in, in a safe and non-judgmental environment, will make these next few years less stressful. You might even make friends with seniors, and they might take you under their wing, guiding you through college life and offering advice and an ear for your worries.

Learn to cook

There are many student guides and online tutorials on making the most basic (but lifesaving) recipes suitable for the fast-paced, hectic life of a student. From simple stir-fry noodles to that perfect pasta bake, you’ll certainly find a few recipes for you. Maybe this might be the time to start eating healthy, what with complete control of buying ingredients!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It can be easy to stay quiet thinking that your question is too inane or stupid, everyone should know the answer to this, right? Even so, it’s better to ask, and your professors and mentors are there to answer them and guide you in your learning. You’re not the only one having these doubts, and maybe someone is silently thanking you for asking the question everyone is too afraid to ask but needed the answer to!

Energy drinks, caffeine, and medication

It’s inevitable that, with the many things to do and people to meet in your college life, deadlines will come rearing its head, and you’ll find yourself racing against time. Caffeine is your best friend, and if you’re a tea-person instead, caffeinated tea. Although not any less unhealthy as caffeine, energy drinks work too and are usually sold in campus cafeterias and will give you the boost of energy to survive the day after an all-nighter.

Some students have even turned to medication such as Adderall, a drug used to treat ADHD, in an attempt to find equilibrium when everything seems out of their control. A study on Adderall addiction among college students found an increase in emergency room visits due to Adderall use by 155% and you can go to this website to read more.

Mental and physical well-being

With the pressures students are placed under due to the competitive environment that is academics, social pressures to conform and “fit in” and the obsession with achieving “success” to a deadline, it’s easy to forget to take time for yourself.

If something is worrying you or you feel down, make sure to talk to someone about it. Whether it’s your direct family or the friends you made in college, talk to someone you trust. Sometimes talking about what worries you can help shed light on the areas you can actively work on and maybe even lead to a solution.

Seek help and guidance from professionals. Colleges usually have their own health and well-being section where trained professionals offer their services to students in a non-judgmental environment. Whether it be stress from the pressures of classes or a personal family matter, nothing is too small or too big and having someone to talk to may help, even if a little.

Don’t forget to take breaks during study sessions. Keep a bottle of water close at during those endless hours at your desk to keep yourself hydrated. Take time off to catch up with friends and to do things you love.

A problem shared is a problem halved, and you might not be the only one going through the same emotions. If you’re struggling, there’s no shame in asking for help. You are never alone.

Get some sleep

The typical image is a student is caffeine-addled, sleep deprived and buried beneath piles of overdue paper, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Every student works differently but even the most studious or the most social needs their sleep. Make sure that after you’ve pulled all those all-nighters trying to complete a deadline and the few nights spent partying, you take a few days off to rest, catch up on your interests. There are many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep such as improved cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. Not to mention that you’ll be ready to tackle whatever tasks you have the next day after a good sleep!

Your college years will certainly be full of challenges, but they’ll also be the years where you’ll make the best memories, meet the people you’ll cherish and explore the subjects you love. So, don’t be afraid of the challenges, don’t forget to take care of yourself and make the most of it!


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