Everything may seem a tad frantic and unorganised right now with your first semester having just begun, but with just a few tips you’ll hopefully be able to organise your studies and convince everyone you have it all together! By hitting the ground running, you’ll be able to make the most of your classes while still making time for leisure. Here’s how I set myself up to make my life as a student easier and more productive.
Using better calendars
One of the fundamentals is of course knowing where to be and when. You’ll hopefully have worked out access to your timetables on the intranet by now, but what you might not have realised is that you can easily export all this data to the calendar app on your phone, tablet, laptop or smartwatch.
Within the calendar view on a Mac or PC, look for a small ‘Connect Calendar’ button at the top-right, its icon should be two small arrows facing different directions. This will let you sync with Apple, Google or Microsoft calendar services so your next lecture and its location will show up on your device in advance, even with reminder notifications if you like! There’s no excuse to miss a lecture now.
Taking better notes
Paper is dead.
Okay, so this one won’t be for everyone, but taking paper notes is worse in almost every way than typing on a tablet or phone. There are exceptions of course, especially if you need to draw lots of diagrams, eg. Art, Engineering, Mathematics, but for the most part typing is faster, easier, more secure, less space-consuming, better for the environment, and a lot easier to manage. Paper can get lost, stolen, or damaged, and forces you to carry heavy paper pads or many individual pages around with you.
All most people really need is a student card, a drink, and one small device to type on and have all your notes and photos for the year backed up automatically, ready for you when you start your coursework. Still, best take a pen for those archaic paper registers that sometimes make a surprise appearance!
Writing better essays
Citethemrightonline is a great website that tells you how to structure your references whatever the source. It’s well worth getting to grips with this as early as possible because learning to reference from scratch whilst writing your essays can be daunting.
“I don’t like referencing, not et al” (Unknown, Unknown).
For me, I’ve found that the quickest way to write an essay is to start with a simple table. Find sources relevant to the topic, and write its full reference in one column. On the next, jot down a summary of your ideas and points, then in the third paste a link so you don’t lose it. Only when you’ve got enough material to work with should you structure these points into a logical order, then start writing. That way you’ll find it much easier and faster to keep on writing as your ideas flow!
You can’t expect to succeed if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be succeeding at. The DLE has loads of information on how to succeed on your course, such as your coursework requirements and mark schemes! Use this to find out what they’re looking for in order to get high marks. This should inform the structure of your work. Write your headings and subheadings first, then get to work writing your points, explaining them and citing your references. With all of this done, it will be much easier to write an abstract and introduction.
Hope this helped, and good luck getting settled into your course!
Talk soon people,