These weren’t discovered by a psychologist or a scientist. Oh no, these were discovered by the highly credible and so very intelligent me. Yep, I have found ways to deal with university workloads. See, I dropped out of my first university last year due to the demands it had on me. Not just the work, but the distance it was from my home. I began university again this year closer to home and it has eased the burden amazingly. Six hours on a train to get to and from school is no longer necessary. There’s my first lesson: if you’re going to study, live near the campus, otherwise you won’t get out of bed.
I found myself falling behind in one class though despite the new ease of proximity. The old me hissed “just drop the class” but the newer me (who has better hair and a smarter outlook, of course) decided that the ways of the past aren’t going to cut it any more. Instead, at the end of week 5 I actually made and spent the time needed to catch up. I just finished off the learning portfolio I need to hand in in a week that wasn’t even half-finished a day ago, and it’s 5 weeks of work.
These are the things I recommend you do before you drop a class, coming from someone who dropped a whole course and now isn’t ditching anything.
- Get a folder, organize it. My class is set into 3 modules, so I put in 3 dividers for the notes and readings for each module.
- Read your unit outline back to front. Find the ‘point’ of the class (mine was written like a mission statement under ‘syllabus’) and really take it in so that you know why you’re doing the unit and what learning outcome is expected of you.
- Read through the required assignments you will have to do. Choose an essay topic, a project topic etc. Doing this will mean that when you revisit and first visit the next weeks, you will find relevant information and sources for these assignments.
- Go back to week 1 and re-read the info. Go to the first divider in your folder for module 1, select some paper. Re-read the week 1 readings, view the videos and lecture and this time – take handwritten notes! First, check the questions you are being asked and answer them in your notes. Then write down any info that will be handy for those assignments.
- Go to week 2. Repeat.
- Repeat for weeks 3, 4 and 5 or whatever you’re behind in until you are up to date. Re-read every reading, this time with a higlighter and a notepad. Re-watch the lectures and any linked videos. Visit any discussion boards. Take notes for assignments.
- Reading and listening to things a second time is a great way for information to suddenly make sense. It’s no longer a nonsensical blur of dates, definitions and discussion – it’s a text you can now see the premise, relevance and important passages in. I find that reading an article etc when you get it all the way through first, then leaving it for a break, and then reading through a second time slowly while taking notes is the best way to understand what’s happening in an article.
- Finally, if after re-visiting the weeks you missed or didn’t understand at first and you’re still not getting it, talk to your tutor or a classmate. If their help still doesn’t help you with the class, it may be too hard for you. If you don’t want it to be too hard for you, then harder work will just be required. Trust me, I am a procrastinating, lazy dumbo who suffers from chronic migraine and I have caught up at week 6 – you can do it, too.
- For some classes it’s possible to find and watch documentaries on the subject which will help. You can even eat while you watch so it’s like fun television. Take notes!
- Don’t forget to keep hydrated and eat some healthy food while you study.
- Exhaust all help before you back out! (oh man, I would be the most annoying slogan saying teacher and it would tickle me pink)
So even though my eyes are streaming from my computer screen, despite my virus, and it being Easter, I have finally conquered the class I thought I was going to fail. There’s just now, you know, the rest of the weeks to tackle and attempt and the assignments… Do you have any study tips? I hope mine come in handy one day to a struggler. Meanwhile, Happy Easter!