Many of you are probably asking, “what’s the academic transition like? How does it get harder?” Although you have less classes than you did in high school and more “free time,” with university comes a heavier workload. Sure, you get more time off, but most students end up using that time to learn and study on their own, because you will probably have some classes in which you need to do some extra self-study to actually get the lecture content.
The first month of school, you’ll realize that while you try to do all your readings, that’s actually not possible because few people have the time (or energy and motivation) to read 100pgs a week. That’s too much work and not worth the effort put in. Also, your profs probably cover what they want you to know in the lecture, just fyi. You should carefully consider how much time and effort you spend doing your readings to maximize your study skills (eg. if the prof says that the exam is not based off readings, focus on lecture content). Focus on what the prof wants you to know and try to find out what will be tested on exams, because it’ll make your life easier in the long run than trying to memorize every piece of info in the books.
The most important part of studying in university is learning the most effective and efficient way to do it. For those of you who breezed by high school, you’ll realize that university is different, and you may not be able to do as well as you did in high school with your current study habits. One major difference between high school and university is that now, asides from a few assignments/essays, most of the material will be online and you’ll probably hand most of your projects online too. Although this change can appear indifferent to some people, it can result in a bit of a learning curve. For example, in high school, my notes were all handwritten because I almost never took my laptop to school, and writing things down on paper helps with remembering it. Plus, there was usually enough time to jot down everything the teacher wrote on the board. However, in university classes, it’s much different and although profs do slow down and answer questions when you ask, they still teach at a relatively faster pace that places the responsibility of keeping up on you. Therefore, most university students bring laptops for taking notes, because some of us can’t keep up with handwriting.
Nearly all university course material will be on Learn. I only had one course, ECON 101, in my 1A term that wasn’t, because the professor preferred the old school whiteboard method instead. However, for all my other classes, all course materials were provided online, with the exception of textbooks ofc. While i’m usually the one who likes writing my notes by hand, I quickly realized that I would have to abandon this habit because it’s too time consuming.
There was one time when I sat for three hours at the library trying to make sociology notes for my upcoming exam, which I didn’t do well on, which was a waste of time and effort. That being said, try to either 1) find out what the exam will generally cover, or 2) find a way to minimize studying time while maxing knowledge absorption. Your prof’s powerpoints should cover most of the exam material, if not all, and I found that I didn’t really have to look outside of that to study, but that’s just my perspective. There was this one time I had an ethics exam and ended up getting an 86 just by doing the study guide my prof gave me, and found out afterwards that my classmates got in the mid-70s by reading over extra notes and the book. It really does depend, but it’s better to focus on the exam review given to you.
Ok, and now for the most important financial tip I will give to first years. I know that since y’all are just getting started with your uni life, you may not be familiar with avoiding extra costs. Asides from the mandatory living and tuition fees that everyone must pay as a student, it is possible to avoid paying the full amount for some of your textbooks. Feds sells textbooks at 85% of the original price and there is also a Facebook group for buying/selling textbooks. Use these resources to your advantage, because I know no one likes buying single-course textbooks at full price 😉
You might have profs who say “but we recommend the new edition for this course because it is updated.” Updated meaning some chapters may be switched around, the font is different and there are a few more paragraphs in this year’s book, but usually nothing substantial. I remember my arbus 101 class, the prof said “you guys need to get the newest edition of the textbook for this course. Yes, you can get the later edition, but you’ll have to put more effort into making sure you read the correct info.” That scared most of the class into buying a new textbook. Unfortunately, we only realized a month into the school term that most of us didn’t even read the textbook, but usually just studied the PowerPoint slides. After all, you can’t really make 2016’s definition of “entrepreneurship” substantially different from 2015’s version. The same happened to be true for most of other first-year courses. After the first month, I eventually stopped reading my LS 101, SOC 101 and PSCI 100 books because the material tested on the exams were mainly from the lectures. Talk about a complete waste of money; worth nearly one month’s rent. Lesson learned; better to buy textbooks from upper years unless the learning material comes with a code that is required for accessing a third-party website or some other circumstance.
Remember to study smart not hard. Otherwise, you’ll end up exhausted and burned out by studying long hours while not learning sufficient material, which is inefficient and time-consuming.
Another important study tip is to thoroughly read through the exam review that your profs give you. Honour the study guide because that’s the key to the treasure of what content will be tested on the exam. Of course, if your profs tell you what you’re being tested on, listen, so that you can spare some time having to know everything you ever learned in the course and just focus on hitting the key concepts on the exam. Yes, learning more is great, but your marks are taken at face-value by employers (mainly in first year).
Anyways, good luck on your transition into university academia and I wish you the best in getting the high grades that you obtained in high school. I really hope reading this helped you, and offers some sort of an insight to the next chapter of your life. If you want a deeper insight to what university life is like, read my last post here.
Best wishes everyone!