The Spring semester has begun for university students and for me, the first week of school has just passed. Sleeping schedule aside, I am gradually getting back into school mode after a nice winter break.
I don’t bring a lot of things with me to school. I remember back in middle school and high school I would lug around a huge binder in and out of my locker and in elementary school I would have this long, pink pencil box inside my desk. But in university there are no cubby-hole desks or free lockers for you to use as storage.
As a kick-off to school starting again, I am now revealing the contents of what I carry in my school backpack and some tips to staying on top of your academics for the spring semester.
A relatively small one where I keep all my rewritten lecture notes from each course. A lot of profs like to post up their lecture slides online, but I find that handwriting them after you make additional notes in lectures help a lot in engraving it to your mind. I like to keep them all within one binder so I can review notes on the bus or my breaks.
Essential for me during lectures. A great way to comfortably scribble notes and stash handouts or extra papers.
3. Pencil Case
Inside is my calculator, ruler, assortment of color pens, pencil, eraser, lead, etc.
To hold my transit pass and in case I ever starve on campus.
I must never lose this umbrella. It’s my favorite one because it’s super small and can fit into even my smallest purses. And since the weather where I live is completely unpredictable (rain? snow?) it’s a must-have for university students.
6. Sticky Pad
The Ready-Set-Grow box there actually holds a lot of different sticky notes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Extremely helpful in noting down important things during lectures (ex. parts that will be on exams), reminders, scrap paper, and review.
Some courses require an electronic clicker to answer questions in class. My prof is tricky sometimes and springs on pop-iclicker quizzes.
8. Miscellaneous Personal Things
Compact mirror, mint, and a small lip Vaseline goes with me wherever I go.
I don’t usually bring my textbooks to class unless I have to. Even in tutorials if my TA tells me to bring the text up so we can all go over questions, I usually just take a picture of the page or questions on my phone instead of bringing the entire thing up there.
I also don’t bring my laptop to school either. I find it too distracting during lectures because I always end up doing something else. Also, finding outlets may be a hassle. And it’s too heavy..
Tips to Staying on Top of Things for Spring Semester
1. GET AHEAD. NOW. WHILE YOU CAN.
Everyone has a tendency to procrastinate. While you are still running on that motivational fuel of “doing better this semester”, get ahead of what you need to do for the course! Start your readings for the course now instead of starting off one week late. If there’s an assignment or essay due in a few weeks, start on it now instead of the week of. There are a lot of little things you can do that can help finish the entire thing faster and easier later.
2. Review things as often as you can.
Don’t wait until midterm season to start studying. Read over your notes while you’re on the bus or if you have a one-hour break in between classes.
3. Keep up with your routines.
Keeping up with the readings is hard. But if you miss one week you end up falling behind for everything or even worse… not doing them at all! Make sure you’ve read the course outlines and have a list of when assignments and essays are due.
4. Get help early.
Professors and TA’s stress this a lot already. But if you find yourself not understanding something or falling behind already, go get help early on. A lot of times they stack up the things you need to learn one after another. If you don’t get the basics or the fundamentals, everything they try to teach you afterwards won’t make sense either. It’s good to clear up everything before it’s exam time and their offices are flowing with students and questions about things from the very beginning.
5. Learn from last semester.
Everyone has different styles of studying. Some things may work for some people and not for others. Learn from last semester’s study habits and results. Continue to do things that worked for you and change things that didn’t help with your grades.
Each semester has different professors who require different things from your learning. Make sure you adapt to these changes and clearly find out what is needed to be done for each course (course outline! It may seem pointless but print it out… you’ll refer back to it later).
Good luck to all the returning students and stay healthy! Winter isn’t over yet!