The Beginning of the Mid-Semester Slump

15 Sep

Now that the first weeks of school are out of the way, many students notice that they are not feeling as excited as they once were about being at college. The first day jitters are gone, and now it’s time to really buckle down and focus on academics with midterms right around the corner.

Unfortunately, this point in the semester is often when academic boredom truly sets in. Up to this point, students have likely not had many assignments and tend to lose motivation. Luckily, there are many ways to get back on track! First and foremost, attending class is crucial. Professors go beyond the content presented in readings and can help connect the material to real life. Keeping cell phones and laptops put away during class helps minimize distractions tremendously and will facilitate the most learning possible during a lecture or discussion session. Many introductory courses can feel boring because they are not very specific, so it’s important to realize that each class is counting towards a degree and serves a purpose.

One contributor to academic boredom is that new students’ schedules are typically saturated with general education (gen ed) courses. Gen eds may seem irrelevant to their future plans, but can be useful! Sometimes students discover a new passion in a gen ed and find their dream major or career. Other times, classes that feel irrelevant stretch a student’s ability to think critically. Sometimes professors intentionally guide students to identify or challenge their values and beliefs. These are opportunities unique to the college environment where it is accepted and even encouraged to grapple with being uncomfortable.

Everyone comes to college with different plans for the future. Some people have their hearts set on a particular career, others are questioning their original plans, and still others have absolutely no idea. Societal pressures can make it scary to be questioning a major or career. However, the majority of students will go through that phase at some point in their career and there are several resources available to navigate these thoughts. Every college has designated advisors to discuss uncertainties and future plans for students. Students in leadership roles, such as peer mentors and resident assistants, can help by sharing their experiences and resources. Many students need support from family to know that they will be accepted regardless of what major or career they ultimately choose.

The midpoint of the first semester of college can be a trying and confusing time, but don’t fear – campus is filled with people invested in helping students achieve their full potential. Many of these challenges can actually turn out to be valuable learning experiences that stay with someone for the rest of their life.

-Gabriela

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Major Incompatibility

15 Sep

Remember in Tarzan (the original Disney version) when he was a kid and he always thought he was a gorilla, but then he found out he wasn’t? Remember how he wanted to find where he belonged so he spent a great montage impersonating other animals to find his fit? That was pretty much me my freshman year of college. I came into college thinking I was sure of my major and my career path, but four weeks in I hated it. While it wasn’t as traumatizing as finding out you aren’t the animal you grew up thinking you were and having a complete identity crisis, it was really hard feeling like I didn’t belong in my major or fit with the people in it.

swinging with monkey

Like Tarzan, I didn’t find where I belonged right away. I decided to change my major, but at this point it was too late in the semester to switch classes, so I had to stick out the next three months in my original major. It was hard to make friends or connect to the people in my original major because I knew I was leaving the program. I didn’t want to stay in the clubs I had joined for my old major because they were very major specific and I wasn’t interested in them, but I didn’t feel like I could join clubs for my new major because it was already a month into the semester and I didn’t know how to get involved this late in the year.

I felt like every had their place and I was lost. I didn’t feel like I fit in either my old or my new majors and it made my transition really difficult since I hadn’t really made friends outside of classes yet. So what did Tarzan do when he found out he wasn’t a gorilla but didn’t fit with all the other animals either? He adapted to the situation he was in and made the best of it. So that’s exactly what I did.

being a chameleon

One of the best things for me was getting more involved in a club that wasn’t class or school related. Not only was it a great break from the stresses of school, but I also made a ton of great friends. Just like how Tarzan’s friends Terk and Tantor but loved him no matter what type of animal he was, I met people who didn’t care about what I was studying, but cared about me as a person. I also started looking at clubs that I could join for the next semester that were major-specific, which helped me feel really prepared too. While the semester was still hard having to take classes in a field I didn’t want to pursue with people I didn’t feel I fit in with, having other friends and activities really helped me feel like there was a place I belonged.

being like hippo.gif

The lesson I learned in all of this was that it’s ok to feel like you don’t fit in. There’s a lot of people in the exact same position as you, whether you realize it or not. After my freshman year, I met so many people who had been in the same exact boat as me. Good news is if you’re struggling to figure out what major to pursue, what clubs to join, or how to feel like you fit in, there are so many resources to help you out such as your academic advisors, CAPS, the ASUA club website, club fairs, and more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and talk to people who have either been there before or know what to do in this situation. You don’t have to change who you are to try to fit in. There’s a perfect place here for you, even if it takes a little trial and error to find it.

-Jess

 

My Not-So-Irrelevant Gen Ed

11 Sep

We have all been in that one class where we basically sit there with our eyes narrowed wondering, “Why though?”  It’s almost a freshman rite of passage at this point! And I must say, I was feeling the salt my freshman year in some of my classes.

 salt GIF

^ Although, I wasn’t smiling like the Morton salt girl (ha ha), she helps lead me into my next point: One of the gen eds that I found particularly hard to swallow (salt pun continued?) my freshman year was my Weather & Climate class.

I would like to start out by saying that I’m a business major (MIS, specifically), so this Gen Ed was not exactly applicable to my field of study. Additionally, my professor LOVED all things weather and climate. Like he would absolutely chase a storm or something just to see it. So sitting in class, I guess I could say I was entertained to some extent, but at the same time, I knew if he walked through the calculation of dew point temperature ONE more time, I was going to lose it.

joonasjoonas animation loop sun weather GIF

Also, his absolute love of the subject led to him assigning quite a bit of work to the class. Our quizzes were extensive to say the least. I genuinely felt like I was putting a lot of work into this gen ed – potentially more work than I was putting into my Accounting class (as a business major!). I was feeling the frustration, people.

One day, however, I was doing some homework at a cafe, and the people next to me were discussing global warming. Not to get political, but they were discussing how there was no “real proof” for it, and my eyes were absolutely rolling to the back of my head. However, instead of festering in my quiet rage/contempt, my mind was shifting to topics like “air quality index” and the low heat capacity of the ocean. In that moment, I realized that I was actually retaining a lot of the information from my gen ed.

 weather stormy storm clouds GIF

Now, obviously even before taking this gen ed, I realized that our atmosphere and general things like weather, are important to understand and have a definite effect on my day to day life. But sitting there across from these randoms (who no, I did not lecture – although maybe I should have?) made me realize that if I genuinely try to take everything I can from these gen eds, I can come out of college a more diverse, well-rounded, and intelligent individual.

Philippa Rice happy rain weather umbrella GIF

SO, after all that, here are some of my tips on how to combat GEN ED INDIGNATION:

  1. Try to sit down with the perspective of someone with a genuine interest in the subject. Having an open mind and at least feigning interest to some degree can make a difference.
  2. Do your best (with the help of tools like ratemyprofessor.com) to find professors that are passionate about their subject. I genuinely believe that my Weather & Climate professor’s love for his own class contributed to my ability to retain information.
  3. Make friends in your gen eds! It makes it a million times better studying for a topic that don’t have a lot of interest in if you have someone sitting through the struggle with you.

Alright, that’s all I have for now! Good luck with your gen eds, Wildcats!!

-Amna 🙂

There’s a Solution!

8 Sep

One of the coolest things about taking college courses is the freedom to pick which classes will make up your schedule. Maybe you end up in a cooking class or a class about serial killers (I mean whatever floats your boat, right?). Really, the end goal when making a course schedule is to have it be a nice balance of both your academic requirements and your personal interests. It’s also a great opportunity to explore topics that spark curiosity! Sadly, it’s totally possible to find yourself having chosen something that just doesn’t quite fit with your personality or perhaps isn’t quite what you thought it’d be when you first signed up for it. Fear not, young student! It happens to lots of us and there ARE ways to either make the best of the situation or find good alternatives to “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus” (it’s an actual class offered at a college in New York).

Make some friends!

If there’s anything to consider when thinking up ways to making a class work out, it’s finding people in those classes to make the course work a little bit more bearable. Sometimes the best way to make a bad situation better is to have people around you that make it fun to be there in the first place. Making friends in your least favorite class will not only expand your social group, but it can also give you some pretty cool study buddies. Just because the material is boring doesn’t mean that class time/studying should be boring too!

Of course, sometimes even meeting new people can’t make the class bearable enough to stay enrolled in it. There may be times when you simply come across a class that, no matter what, there’s no way to get excited about it. Maybe this is because the course is too challenging. More often than not, students don’t initially like their courses because the material pushes them beyond what they think themselves capable of. Take for example Gen. Chem. Hundreds of students take this class their freshman year but there are a number, including myself, who can’t stand thinking about oxidation-reduction equations. Chemistry is an incredibly complex subject! But whether you think the material is complex or not, those who do have a hard time with it tend to feel discouraged a lot of the time. Classes like Chemistry are typically required courses for one’s major and that’s where the issue arises. What do you when the course you’re just not feeling AT ALL is necessary to complete your degree?

The alternatives:

The best option for most students is to get familiar with their professor. This means emailing, office hours, a quick conversation before or after class. Not only do most professors like getting to know their students, but it can also develop a pretty beneficial relationship with the person in charge of whether or not you pass the course. It’s more than okay to not like a class because of feeling discouraged but that doesn’t mean it should stay that way. Sure, you may not fully enjoy the material but at least you’re giving the class your full effort and that’s something that your professor will likely appreciate.

Another option, and one that most people don’t like to bring up, is considering whether a class is right for you. Many times the courses that people absolutely hate are a pretty good reflection of what the rest of your academic career will look like. A prospective medical school student who doesn’t like mathematics or any of their chemistry courses? Yeah… that might not play out so well within two years. It’s important to keep things like that in mind; certain degrees require certain types of courses in order to be completed. In other words, it’s okay to take the time so that you can think about whether you prioritize taking courses you actually enjoy to complete a degree or whether you prioritize a career goal more than anything. Not saying that one is better than another, but looking into different options could help situate you with material that won’t have you wishing you were somewhere else for the next four years.

College is supposed to be a fun experience for students–that includes classes as well. It’s not unusual to find yourself wishing you had taken a different course! That being said, it’s also not unusual to find yourself looking for ways to make the course fun or to reconsider the material that you’ll be working on for the semester, possibly even the next few years. Whatever the alternative turns out to be, the most valuable thing a student can do while in college is take advantage of the opportunities provided here. This isn’t high school anymore, with college comes the freedom to learn about anything and everything you choose to.

-Diana

 

The One with the Unrealistic Expectations

3 Sep

Ah, finally the time has come! You’ve graduated high school, spent the summer traveling, and now you’re moved into your new dorm room! Your older brother and parents have told you all about their college experiences, and you’re excited to have an experience just like theirs. You’ll have tons of time to explore the city and go out with all of your amazing new friends. Your courses will be so easy, fun, and laid-back in comparison to high school courses. You’ll have so much independence to make your own choices and do whatever you want!

friendsclapping

While these are all very optimistic thoughts to have, they may not necessarily be true. Sorry to burst your bubble, but many of us as freshman jump into college holding many unrealistic expectations of the new world around us.

As a freshman, I felt many things in the first few weeks of school. I remember being absolutely amazed that so many people could be in one lecture hall at the same time – and all be quiet. I was eager, nervous, excited, and optimistic about the new semester. I believed that my new college life would be like something out of a movie!

giphy-downsized

But, to my dismay, it was not just like a movie. If I knew the common misconceptions about college life, maybe I would have had an easier time! Here are some expectations I experienced when I first came to college, and what you should really be expecting from your first year in college:

  1. Classes will be easy-peasy! Ha, don’t make me laugh! College coursework is not for the faint of heart! You may believe that your high school courses were the epitome of tough classes, but unfortunately, that is not the case. In high school, I took many dual enrollment classes and AP courses. I took chemistry, biology, history, etc – and I passed with flying colors! When I took my chemistry class in college, I walked in thinking it would be a breeze. I did well in high school chemistry, so I’ll do really well in college level chemistry, right? WRONG. College classes require you to dedicate hours and hours of your time to studying. You might even need to attend tutoring, study sessions, or your professor’s office hours for extra help. The point being that college courses are not something to take lightly – you must work for the grade you want!
  2. I can skip all the classes I want! My entire senior year of high school, classmates and even teachers would often say, “College professors never take attendance!” This, my friends, is the furthest thing from the truth. When professors go over their syllabus, they will often mention attendance policies. Many of these syllabi will include a statement along the lines of “Attendance is recorded for a grade” or “Missing 3 or more classes will lower your grade.”200w_dNot only can skipping class potentially lower your grade, but think about all of the money you will be losing in the long run. Why would you pay for $1,000 courses if you’re not even going to show up? College courses should not be a chore, so make sure you choose a major that you will really enjoy! Gen eds also give you the opportunity to take courses that you may have particular interest in, such as an art course or a mythology course.
  3. I’m going to have tons of free time! Um, no. College courses are going to take up the bulk of your life (refer to number 1). As a freshman, you will most likely have class every day of the week! On top of that, you have to factor in the time you spend studying and dedicating time to your coursework. You may even look into getting a part time job to help pay for tuition, living expenses, books, etc. 200w_d2I know, I know. This isn’t what you wanted to hear, but in the end, it will all be worth it! College gives you many opportunities to get out of your comfort zone! Maybe you want to join a club and dedicate some time to that. You could join an intramural sport to get some exercise into your busy schedule! Even though a student’s life is extremely busy, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and full of new experiences.
  4. None of my friends are going to U of A, I’m not going to have any friends! This was one of my biggest fears coming into college. Many of the classmates I graduated with stayed in my hometown or decided to go to a different university. I had no idea what to do to make new friends in college, and to be quite honest, I was terrified! giphy-downsizedasedfHere’s the truth: you don’t have to do much to make new friends! A lot of freshman live in the residence halls on campus, and that is a great way to make new friends. If you join a club, you will find tons of other students who share similar interests with you. Even in your classes, just by sitting someone new everyday, you can meet a lot of really amazing people!

Even though college may not match up perfectly with what you expected, there are still many fun times to be had and many new things to learn! Open your mind, explore, and don’t be afraid to do what you love!kdkdkdk

– Elizabeth

4 Ways Pop Culture Lied to you about College

3 Sep

Before coming to college, you may have seen TV shows and movies that gave you a certain expectation of what your experience would be like. Those depictions may have gotten you excited for freshman year, or terrified you. After a few weeks on campus, you may be noticing ways media just got it flat out wrong. Here are a few examples of how I’ve found popular media didn’t accurately portray college life.

  1. Residence halls look like mini-houses
    IMG_0684aExpectation: If you’ve seen Gilmore Girls, you know Rory’s residence hall basically looked like a miniature home. Every four girls having two large bedrooms and a living room sounds like a great deal!

    Reality: No matter where you go to school, it is likely your residence hall room is going to feel a little cramped. Trying to fit all of your belongings is a little difficult, not to mention entertaining a bunch of friends. 
  2. Wearing heels and formal clothing constantly is feasible and comfortable
    15894d4b4a3d9c8d41d8cbb3f42568f7--bruiser-woods-elle-woodsExpectation: In Legally Blonde, Elle Woods has no problem walking around campus in nice clothes and heels. Not to mention she brings Bruiser with her everywhere.

    Reality: If you try to wear wedges and heels to class all day, your feet will be hurting from trekking across campus. You can make it work, but it is not going to be a fun time. Living in Arizona means any and all nice clothing are going to get sweaty in no time. Bring a change of clothes and shoes for presentation days! 
  3. All random roommate situations are awkward
    giphyExpectation: In Pitch Perfect, Beca and Kimmy Jin don’t know each other at all. Beca tries to initiate a friendship, but Kimmy Jin pretty much wants nothing to do with Beca.

    Reality: Sometimes random roommates never talk and just somewhat coexist. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! Last year, I had a random roommate and over time and many meals together we became closer. Today, she is one of my best friends! 
  4. Parties are the only thing to do on campus
    TowniesExpectation: In many movies like Neighbors, it seems like the only social thing to do after 5PM is going to parties.

    Reality: There are literally so many clubs and events going on every day on campus. You have so many options to have fun besides partying! Get involved in clubs, and stop by events- not only can you make new friends, but there usually will be free food too.

If your expectations aren’t quite matching up with the reality of your college experience, don’t be disappointed. Take life one day at a time and enjoy each moment. College will be over before you know it, so make these yours your own.

-Gabriela

5 Actual Reasons NOT to Ditch Class

28 Aug

Alright, to my easily bored, less enthused friends in the back, this one is for you.

pointing

Ditching class: we all think about it. I get it -I do it. Class is boring, you have an 8AM, or your professor puts everything up online.

BUT before you decide on taking a three-month hiatus from class, let me tell you the BENEFITS of actually going to the class of monotone professors.

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  1. YOU CAN LEARN EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION

I kid you not, I can’t even count the amount of times I have been to recall small things -THAT TURNED UP ON TESTS – I pick up from class when I thought I wasn’t even listening. You can be sitting in class zoning out, drawing, or just sitting there, and I promise you, you can probably recall 35% percent of what the entire lecture was. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention, but just go. You’ll remember something.

thor

This is literally me, but whatever

  1. MAKE FRIENDS

Wow. Believe it or not, you can make a lot of friends in class. SO, if it’s not the educational experience that is drawing you to get out of bed and to class, think of all your friends, or possible friends. If you make friends, they can help you study in the future and you can borrow and share notes – when studying or catching up. But how are you expecting to make friends if you don’t come to class?

frands

  1. YOU LEARN MORE BY WRITING

Alright, for all ‘oh I’ll just ditch because my professor puts up the slides on D2L’ friends, DON’T FALL FOR IT. There are multiple reasons you can’t have that mindset;

  1. Your professor put it up there to help you understand, not for you to ditch
  2. No matter how much you tell yourself, you are NOT going to look back at the slides and write your notes in bed – this is just a fact of life –
  3. Typing onto your slides is LESS effective than writing on them or writing your notes in total

So let’s not lie to ourselves and ditch classes by your ‘I’ll do it later’ excuse. Just go to class now, and take your nap later!

cap

and you too, can be like Cap, and stay one step ahead of the nap-takers

  1. EXTRA CREDIT

While we’re on the subject of not lying to each other, PROFESSORS KNOW YOU DON’T WANT TO SHOW UP. So, they do what smart professors do, offer IN-CLASS, EXCLUSIVE, ‘I’m not going to tell you about this until class’ EXTRA CREDIT. So, GO TO CLASS. GET YOUR EXTRA CREDIT. REAP THE REWARDS.

yes

doesn’t everyone like free points?

  1. THIS IS TOO EXPENSIVE TO DITCH

Alright, if I haven’t fully convinced you yet, let Lili lay some numbers on you.

Out of state:

You’re paying -without scholarship- roughly $36,000 a year. Assuming you’re taking 15 credits and each class is worth 3 credits and you’re here for 2 semesters, this means that:

  • Each class you take is worth $3,600
  • Every week of class is $240
  • For classes that are three times a week, it’s $80 per class
  • For classes that are two times a week, it’s $120 per class

In state:

You’re paying -without scholarship- roughly $13,000. Assuming you’re taking 15 credits and each class is worth 3 credits and you’re here for 2 semesters, this means that:

  • Each class you take is worth $1,300
  • Every week of class is $87
  • For classes that are three times a week, it’s $29 per class
  • For classes that are two times a week, it’s $44 per class

SO, before you ditch, ask yourself if it’s worth missing that much money. You’re paying to be here, so be here.

money

Deadpool is right; we all can’t be Tony Stark

I am in no way saying I haven’t ditched class. However, I have not made a habit out of it. As an out-of-state student, I can say I definitely do not think paying that much money to ditch one class is worth it.

conclusion

Now that you’ve heard 5 SOLID points, I’ll just leave it to you and your conscience.

So, remember why you’re here, and study on!

Stay beautiful,

Lils xx

Welcome to College

28 Aug

“Another year in Tucson, another year at the University of Arizona” or something along those lines is what I said my first day back from summer break. You could say I’m pretty accustomed to college life at this point… I’m up for graduation this May, thinking about what life after college will hold for me. Time goes by faster than one thinks!

However, I, too, used to be a freshman. I, too, used to roam the university’s campus wondering were my classes were, what the quickest route to class was, or if I would ever get used to being so far away from home and all on my own. A student’s first year at university truly is so exciting. There’re new people EVERYWHERE and a newly found freedom, different to whatever freedom existed at home, that more than likely is foreign to the incoming freshman class. Of course, with all the excitement that college brings there are the nerves and the fear of the unknown that can sometimes blind-side an unsuspecting freshman. Add to that the more than possible chance of academic underpreparedness and finally, to top it all off: unrealistic expectations of what college is and should be. These are all things can absolutely take a freshman student by storm their first year on campus—no matter how ready they may feel.

Transitioning from home-life to a college campus for the first time can be as overwhelming as it is thrilling. Moving into a college dorm is such a milestone for young people (it means mom and dad won’t be there to breathe down their backs anymore). Even students who are living at home are likely traveling farther to school, have an irregular schedule, and a number of other changes that mean life is just different than it was before. But no matter how excited they are to start this new period in their lives, sometimes the switch from the familiar to the unfamiliar isn’t so smooth; it can be as simple as having to learn to use a washing machine to feeling a bit anxious about making new connections with people. This is typically when the down-our-back breathing parents’ tips and encouragement are very much missed and appreciated. The early months of college are a prime time to hear from friends and family! It’s always the people we love the most that can make a bad day a little more bearable or help with adulting responsibilities. Even there isn’t some huge problem in urgent need of a solution it really is nice to hear from family back home—it reminds us that we’re missed and loved by people who are important to us.

On top trying to adjust to their new surroundings, one of the wildest things that students realize when they first start classes at a university: this ain’t high school anymore. Academic underpreparedness is absolutely something that students, both new and experienced, can stumble upon. Some of us can even fall prey to it more than once! The thought of having to play catch-up on class material or realizing that you have very little of the tools necessary to be successful in the course is something straight out of a horror movie for most college students. Unfortunately, with the excitement of starting a new school year many students fail to get everything done before classes begin. A good piece of advice for parents in this case would be to give little reminders to their students about things like tutoring and office hours—just two of many resources that can help students stay on track with class material that they may not feel completely ready to take on. Moral support is a huge must in cases like these. Sometimes, knowing that one is underprepared for school can be a blow to one’s perception what they’re capable of accomplishing. Remind students that it’s okay to not always be on top the game in the beginning—what matters is that they put in the work to get where they need to be.

And lastly, after making the efforts to adjust well to campus and working hard to stay on top of class material there is always that sometimes unrealistic expectation of what college is supposed to be like that gets torn down after a couple of weeks in. American culture has created a grand image of what college is: parties, never-ending fun, the ultimate freeing experience. And of course maybe some class time and some studying here and there. To some extent, yes college is somewhat like that. Of course there are parties, absolutely it’s a freedom like none other, but it’s also tons of hard work and dedication to class. On the social end, unless they’re the person that sparks up a conversation with anyone and everyone, some students find that the majority of peers don’t always interact with one another as much as they’d like to. Basically, some may find that they’ve overestimated certain aspects of the college experience. The important thing is for them to understand that there’s nothing wrong that and that, even if that’s the case, the only way to make college enjoyable is to make the best of the time, experiences, and people that they come face-to-face with. And hopefully, if they do that they’ll find that, although not a scene straight out of a movie, college still really is a pretty awesome place to be.

The fact of the matter is college is a whirlwind of a new reality for freshmen. It takes time to adjust, it takes a lot of hard work to keep a handle on all of the new material being introduced, and through all of that they might find the legitimate college experience to differ from what they may have initially thought it to be when they moved into their dorms. They’ll figure things out eventually and they will be successful in the long run. Alternatively, parents may find that their relationships with their students will strengthen in the process. It’s important for students to have that support, even if it’s only over a phone call. The next four years will be huge in both students’ and parents’ lives—the best way to make the best of them is to work with each other, not against each other.

-Diana

Don’t Cram, Calculate!

23 Aug

Perhaps a multitude of things come to mind when you hear the word “cram.” Maybe you think of Jensen Ackles cramming food in his mouth..
 tv supernatural eating chewing GIF

Or maybe, like most college students, you think of cramming for school — test, quizzes, homework, EVERYTHING.

Honestly, I cannot sit here and say that I am not guilty of cramming myself. It’s almost inevitable in college when you have a million and one things on your plate. However, one sad Thursday last semester, I happened to learn my lesson.

As I said, it was dark, dreary Thursday morning. But, that’s a lie (lol) — it was actually really sunny and a pretty typical day in Tucson. However, it was the day of my second midterm in Finance — a class that was notorious for difficult and most importantly, random exams. In the week leading up to that exam, I must say that I was feeling the pressure. But like most of my classmates, I wasn’t quite sure how I should go about preparing for this exam. A lot of these looks were passed around in class that week:

Anyway, I let other classwork come first and before I knew it — BAM, it was the night before the test. Already the resolve was clear in my mind: Yeah Amna, you’re not getting any sleep tonight. And true to my word (thought?), I did not sleep. I stayed at Eller for most of the night with one of my best friends and finest studying partners, and needless to say, there was a lot of coffee.

I have to say at about 4 in the morning my absolute fear and terror began to disspate. Finally, I was gaining a good understanding of the material. There was a light at the end of the tunnel! By 10am, I was back at Eller and helping other students with problems — and not going to lie, I was feeling pretty prepared for this exam!

As I settled into my seat, I reached into my bag to grab all my necessary tools: pencil, formula sheet, and most importantly, calculator. Suddenly — panic. I couldn’t find my calculator! I kept rifling through my bag and coming up empty! I thought I would faint in that moment.

 supernatural dead jared padalecki sam winchester so many feelings GIF

Earlier, I had been running through problems with my calculator outside of the auditorium so that must have been where I left it! I booked it out of that auditorium to check my previous spot. It was no where to be seen. I ran down to my professor to see if he had any spares — he didn’t. Maybe one of my classmates had an extra? Nope. I felt like my spine was frozen in place. I was going to have to take this exam without my calculator.

After the exam, I walked out of the room looking like quite the zombie. My best friend ran up to me asking how it went — she looked pretty stressed herself. As I was telling her what happened, one of the students I was helping earlier walked up to me with my calculator in hand. Apparently, in my exhaustion I had left my calculator with him earlier and he placed it in his bag thinking it was his own!

Upon this realization, I have to say I was pretty upset. But after some time (a long time), I realized that it was my fault. I was too tired coming into this exam and was running purely on caffeine. On any other day, there was no way I wouldn’t have triple checked my bag for my calculator before walking into the exam auditorium. I shouldn’t have crammed!!

So yes, after some major reflection I realized I didn’t have anyone to blame beside myself. I couldn’t blame it on the dark, dreary Thursday..

Anyway, here are some tips to avoid being in a situation like mine:

  • Don’t wait until the night before your exam to start preparing. Sometimes it happens, I know, but try to avoid this at all costs!
  • If you’re unsure about how to best prepare for an exam, visit your professor during their office hours.
    • Pro-tip: Sometimes it’s even better to get advice from TAs and preceptors because they very recently went through the same course.
  • Form a study group with the right people. You need to find people that are motivated (just like you!). This way, you can motivate each other to stay on top of your studying.

So good luck this semester, Wildcats! Stay prepared and ahead of your classes and you won’t regret it!

-Amna 🙂

To the second week… and beyond!

23 Aug

More likely than not, your first week last week probably consisted of going over syllabi and the format of classes and potentially diving into some introductory content. Now that the first week of your freshman year is done though, things really start to kick into high gear from here on out. Without being proactive, it’s so easy to be underprepared and get overwhelmed by everything that’s getting thrown at you. Getting prepared early in the semester has always helped me to stay focused, organized, and on top of things, so here are 5 helpful tips to help prevent under-preparedness and help you thrive in the weeks ahead.

1. Get the books you know you’ll need.

Now that you’ve gone over the syllabi with your professors, you should have a good idea of what books you’ll actually need for your classes. Make sure to purchase them before the bookstore runs out. You don’t want to have to wait for your books to come in the mail because you could miss assignments or required reading in that time. Purchase them as soon as you know what you’ll need, and explore used and rental options to save an extra buck!

2. Begin introducing yourself to classmates and form a study group.

I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten the first assignment in the class and had a simple question but no friends in the class to ask. Or when the professor says to get in groups for a project and I have to work with strangers. Introducing yourself to a few other people in the class early on is a great way to make friends, have people to turn to when you need help, and gives you people to study with before tests.

making friends

3. Get plenty of sleep.

Getting adequate sleep will keep you healthy, alert in classes, and overall make you enjoy everything you’re doing so much more. College is a busy time so it’s so important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Setting a good sleep schedule early on in the year is one of the best habits you can form. You’ll be thanking yourself when exam season starts.

4. Don’t get stressed by the assignments listed on the syllabi.

It can be overwhelming to look and see everything you have to do during the semester on one page. Multiply this by four or five different classes and it can be really overwhelming. But there’s no point in stressing about a test or assignment that isn’t happening for another two months. Be aware of tests, papers, and assignments that are happening later in the semester and put them in a planner, but focus your attention on the assignments that are happening the soonest. Then, check in on your planner each week to know what’s coming up so that assignments don’t sneak up on you.

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5. Have a plan of attack for the rest of the semester.

I have found my professors’ office hours to be one of the most valuable resources in my classes. One of the best ways to prepare and stay on track for the semester is to plan office hours, study time, and SI/preceptor office hours into your weekly schedule. This way you have no excuse to not go to office hours or say you don’t have enough time to study. This makes studying and attending office hours routine. I always find that if I study on a schedule, studying becomes less of a burden over time too and prevents cramming the night before exams.

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The year is coming on strong but the right preparation early on can make a big difference in setting the tone and pace for the rest of the semester. The second week is the perfect time to jumpstart your year. You know more of what is expected from you in your classes but the assignments and tests haven’t hit hard. Take advantage of this week and prepare yourself for your best semester!

-Jess