College Life Hacks

College is not quite like high school--for the first time, perhaps, you're fully in charge of your time, and that can be both freeing AND overwhelming. Here's some handy advice from Miss ADHD Procrastinator herself (that would be me); these helped me get through college with my sanity intact, and hopefully they'll help you too!

Studying Hacks

  • Know your learning style, and study the way that works best for you.
  • Look over class notes while the lecture is still fresh in your mind, preferably with a study partner; this helps both of you have a more complete and accurate set of notes.
  • Study differently based on what kind of test you're gearing up for:
    • Multiple choice test? Make sure you know definitions, vocabulary, facts, and main concepts.
    • Fill-in-the-blank test? Pay special attention to how the professor phrases main concepts in class, how your textbook phrases ideas, etc.
    • Essay exam? Focus on a few key concepts that your instructor has discussed heavily during class, and be prepared to go in-depth.
  • Relate difficult subject matter to a subject you like and enjoy. For instance, I visualized the plotlines of four Shakespearean plays and used that as a memory tool, to help me remember the visual graphs of functions in College Algebra. (Graph starts high and ends low = Romeo and Juliet; graph starts low and ends low = Hamlet, etc.)

Note-Taking Hacks

There are different styles of taking notes:

  1. The hyper-organized Cornell method;
  2. The organized-by-topic-headlines outline method;
  3. The super-visual mapping method;
  4. The table-like charting method;
  5. The fast-flowing sentence method.

Try each one and see which one works most effectively for you! My personal choice is a combination of the outline method and sentence method, especially when I have a computer and can type my notes, because I can more effectively capture what the professor actually said in class. When I don't have a computer, I go solely outline method, summarizing and organizing the speech/lecture into topics.

Better Sleep Hacks

  • Turn off or put away all electronic screens one hour before you need to fall asleep. Yes, that means your phone too. xD
  • ASMR videos can often help you fall asleep--use headphones for best results (also keeps you from annoying your roomie).
  • If you're too hot during sleep and your roomie is too cold, put a towel-wrapped ice pack under your pillow, right where your neck will rest on it. Works great!
  • Taking a quick shower before bed can lower your body temperature enough to sleep, too.

Cheap Eating Hacks

  • To save on gas, parking spots, time, and money, pack your lunch rather than going out to eat. Stress less, eat better!
  • Packing your lunch doesn't have to be boring, either--cook awesome dinner the night before and bring leftovers for lunch! (Just make sure you have a microwave handy)
  • My idea of "awesome dinner" was usually the super-easy meals-in-a-box I picked up at the grocery store--you can find easy-to-cook items if you're willing to take a trip to the store.
  • Eating at your college's cafeteria can save money, too, especially if you have a meal plan--plus, you can more than likely walk to the cafeteria and save gas/get a little exercise.
  • Go in with others on a delivered, shared meal expense (like a pizza) when possible.

Technology Hacks

  • No personal computer or printer? No problem! Ask where the campus computer labs are located--generally you can type things up and print things off there for a nominal fee. Save all your work digitally on a flash drive, and you're set!
  • If you have no computer, no printer, and your school doesn't have a campus computer lab, check in the community around the school for a local library.
  • To avoid getting stuck with a non-working flash drive (or losing said drive), email important files to yourself before leaving for a presentation or meeting. (You can probably even pull up those files on somebody's smartphone if you had to!)

Networking Hacks

  • Attend every class unless physically unable; this alone shows you're dedicated and serious about your college degree, and your professors will respect you more for it.
  • Talk to your professors after class; ask questions, comment on the lesson, or just thank them for their hard work. Most professors love to hear feedback from their students.
  • If you know ahead of time that you're going to miss a class, advise your professor of it, and ask what material will be covered.
  • Make at least one friend in every class, preferably one who takes good notes and is serious about school--this way, you have a study buddy, and you can help each other with notes if one of you has to miss class.

Anti-Procrastination Hacks

  • Keep a detailed to-do list, with your big tasks broken into tiny chunks so that they feel doable.
  • Complete your assignments in phases, and set yourself deadlines for each one (i.e., "by 3:00 pm, have 1 page of big literature paper written.")
  • Aim to complete at least 3 tasks on your to-do list every day.

Organization Hacks

  • Use a reminder app on your phone for class assignments--set the reminder for 2 days before it is actually due.
  • Keep the papers for each class in separate folders.
  • Put completed assignments into the appropriate class folder RIGHT AWAY. Do not just stuff it in your bag and hope to find it later!
  • Create digital folders on your hard drive for each class' electronic files (this helps SO MUCH).
  • Keep your study materials close to where you will ACTUALLY study (desk, bed, etc.).

«« Decorating Your Dorm/Apartment | Moving Out »»