Monthly Archives: April 2017

Special Study Tips for the Chronic Procrastinator

It’s the night before a huge test in your hardest class. You haven’t reviewed your notes, looked back through your textbook, or even thought about the test until just now. That familiar gut-sinking panic begins to set in. There is so much to do and so little time. But have no fear, CollegeXpress is here! The following five tips will help you to get through the night, ace your test, and establish better study habits in the future.

Related: Breaking Bad Habits From Vegetation to Procrastination

1. Don’t waste time with “what-ifs”

There is no use crying over spilled milk. You’ve procrastinated—accept it and move on to preparing for your test. Worrying about how much easier it would have been if you’d only started studying a week before like your teacher suggested is pointless. It will only waste valuable time and energy. The best thing you can possibly do now is calm down and focus all of your time and energy on your studies.

2. Don’t get distracted

Whether it’s Snapchat, texting, YouTube, or any other of the multitude of distractions plaguing teens today, I have one word of advice: resist. Your Instagram story can wait, Facebook will still be there tomorrow, and your friends will forgive you if you lose your streak. If the temptation is too strong, turn off your phone, tablet, etc. and put it in another room. Technology can often suck us in, and before you know it you’ve lost half an hour. So practice some self-discipline and resist the temptation to become distracted.

3. Prioritize your efforts

Focus your efforts on broad concepts first, then use this framework to add in relevant, specific details. This becomes easier with more experience, so don’t worry if you struggle with it now. Analyze previous tests this teacher has given before, and get a feel for what they think is necessary for you to know. The last thing you want to do is waste time memorizing the dates of all the battles of the Civil War if your teacher prefers essay-based tests. So hone in on what’s relevant, and spend most of your time studying those ideas and topics.

4. Go to bed

There comes a time when staying up late and studying becomes counter-productive and you’re better off just getting a good night’s rest. This line varies for everyone, depending on how much sleep you need. I personally need six to seven hours on average to feel refreshed and ready to go the next morning. This being said, many teens, particularly underclassmen, need more. So listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to hit the hay. At this point in the game it’s better to sleep well and remember everything  you did study (as well as being able to figure out other answers logically) than stay up late, cram, and forget everything.

5. Don’t do it again!

There’s nothing worse than knowing that you’ve done this before, remembering how horrible it was, and doing it again. So take a personal pledge now, while the feelings of remorse and despair are still fresh, to avoid procrastinating at all times. This is easier said than done. We’re not perfect, and we will all still put off an assignment from time to time. But by promising ourselves that we will work to avoid these negative situations, we can establish better study habits as a whole and help to directly address the problem (procrastination), not just the symptoms (panic before a test).

Know More About A Degree In Indigenous Studies

A December 2016 THE article highlighted the rise in both the US and Canada of indigenous language coursework. That same month, CBC News ran a story on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s prioritization of indigenous languages through the imminent proposal of the Canadian Indigenous Languages Act, while The Globe and Mail reported on Trudeau’s pledge to work toward reconciliation with the indigenous First Nations, Inuit and Métis groups through annual meetings with their leaders. Given the media buzz over indigenous studies combined with the initiatives fueling this buzz, the question follows: Why is this field so important, and are studies in this area right for you? Read on for five reasons to consider a degree in indigenous studies.   1. Indigenous studies offer a more comprehensive and honest representation of history.  Indigenous people have been marginalized in countries across the globe for many years. In most cases, they’re still being marginalized today. According to Danielle Lorenz, a PhD candidate in educational policy studies, the best way to remedy ongoing ignorance and stereotypes about indigenous people is through indigenous studies. In addition to fascinating coursework in diverse areas ranging from literature to traditional ecological knowledge, Lorenz points out that there are more general takeaways for students in this field: “They can learn about the accomplishments and contributions Indigenous peoples have made to global society, they can learn that Indigenous peoples in North America survived the world’s worst holocaust, they can learn about the true history of Canada – not as peaceful (or dull) as commonly thought, and they can learn that, today, while challenges exist – Indigenous peoples are more than just their ‘issues.’”   2. Indigenous studies are interdisciplinary. Indigenous studies comprise a breadth and depth of academic fields the humanities, social sciences and beyond. Not only do students learn how to integrate this information in order to broaden their worldviews, but in doing so they also hone and refine their critical thinking skills. These skills aren’t just applicable to directly related work in areas like indigenous governance, indigenous literature, and indigenous social work, they’re also transferrable — and highly valued by employers. Read more about interdisciplinary indigenous studies.   3. They are a necessary part of achieving reconciliation. Many national history curricula overlook the stories of indigenous people. In Australia, for example, while Aboriginal people created a unique and impactful civilization, it is largely disregarded today. Why? Because according to an article in The Conversation, “It does not easily fit with the colonial mythologies around which popular histories of Australia have traditionally been constructed. Indeed the very use of the term ‘civilisation’ in relation to Aboriginal Australia will no doubt confound some readers. Perhaps the most insidious myth perpetuated about Aboriginal society is the idea it was ‘primitive’, ‘stone age’, ‘nomadic’, or ‘unevolved’. This type of thinking feeds racist stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes which continue to marginalize and disassociate Aboriginal Australians from the national identity. The archaeology of our continent directly refutes this type of thinking, but until recently the monuments and achievements of ancient Australia have remained largely invisible to the mainstream public.” The Conversation goes on to propose that expanding a society’s historical viewpoint not only “offers a path to new understanding,” but to achieving reconciliation.   4. It helps preserve indigenous cultures. According to a recent New Yorker piece, “On every continent, people are forsaking their ancestral tongues for the dominant language of their region’s majority. Assimilation confers inarguable benefits, especially as Internet use proliferates and rural youth gravitate to cities. But the loss of languages passed down for millennia, along with their unique arts and cosmologies, may have consequences that won’t be understood until it is too late to reverse them.” The proliferation of indigenous language coursework, in particular, is viewed as paramount. “Without language, we are empty vessels,” indigenous language master’s student Bob Badger told THE. “Within our languages, we have a deep understanding of the world around us. We make connections between the traditional cultural teachings and our place in the world. The language is alive and the language has a spirit.” It is because of its vital importance that the Canadian government has proposed the Canadian Indigenous Languages Act, which will grant equal rights and privileges to nine indigenous languages in addition to English and France. Read more about initiatives to preserve indigenous languages.   5. It promotes better citizenship. According to The Conversation, “One of the most important skills promoted by historical inquiry is that of empathy, a feeling of sympathy and engagement for other people from different time periods and cultures….If students can develop the knowledge of why cultures are different it will help develop empathy and encourage an appreciation for diversity, and hopefully, undermine growth of racist viewpoints” while simultaneously supporting the development of a “more comprehensive appreciation of our humanity.”  In other words, is there any better way to improve upon our collective citizenship than by improving upon our collective understanding of each other? Indigenous studies have been deemed so valuable, in fact, that there is a movement to make coursework in this field a mandatory component in university curricula — alongside English, math and other core requirements. By pursuing a degree in this vital field, you won’t just walk away with an enriched (and more accurate) perspective, but you’ll also be positioned to take on a leading role in righting the past towards a more equitable and tolerant future.

Should You Know About Some Memorization Tips and Tricks

There are two parts to memorizing something: getting it into your brain and then getting it out again. Surprisingly, the first part is relatively easy. Your brain can hold a lot of information. Just think about all the song lyrics and tunes that are in your head.

Don’t try to memorize too much at one time. Instead, break it up into parts. If you are trying to memorize a poem, don’t do the whole thing at once. Memorize just one stanza at a time.

You can sometimes “chunk” information. Remembering 10 numbers in a sequence is hard (3 0 7 5 5 5 8 2 9 4). But remembering 10 numbers in telephone format is a lot easier (307-555-8294).

Remember just the critical information. If you are making a presentation about constellations, you don’t have to remember every one of them. Find out what your teacher expects for the presentation and focus on those aspects.

Repetition over time is the most important method of getting information into your head and retrieving it readily. Don’t cram; the information won’t stick. Repeat the information frequently over time.

Writing things down and saying them out loud are wonderful ways to help you remember things. When you use these two strategies, think about what you are trying to remember. Just don’t say things out loud when they will annoy other people.

Mnemonics work for some people. This is the strategy where you associate information with something else. One of the classics is the mnemonic for the planets, at least when Pluto was included: “My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas.”

Adding a tune to what you are memorizing can be really helpful. The best example is the alphabet song, which you probably learned when you were four or five years old. Isn’t it unbelievable that you could remember all 26 letters at that age?

One of the toughest memory tricks is unlearning incorrect information. Instead of trying to unlearn it, try recalling it with a different cue. If you are constantly misspelling “weird” as “wierd,” you can always get it right if you remember it as “We are weird.” The “we” will help you spell it correctly.

Here’s something you should memorize. Ask your friends for their memory tricks. They might not all work for you, but some of them certainly will.

Learn More About Time Management and Study Skills

Rehearsals and practices. Study groups and last-minute trips to the beach. Not to mention, you know, class work. Any way you slice it, college is full of stuff. Worried about fitting it all in? Author, consultant, and all-around college expert Marcia Y. Cantarella, Ph.D., can help! She was kind enough to share an excerpt from her book I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide, Chapter 8: Time Management and Study Skills.

Did you know it’s advised that you study two hours for every credit hour you take? So if you’re taking 16 credits, that’s 32 hours of study a week. But you’re working 20 hours a week. And you commute three hours each day, 21 hours a week. And you do need to sleep at least six hours (42 per week) or you’re a mess. That’s 115 hours a week accounted for right there. And students who sleep more do better by a significant degree, according to various studies.

There’s obviously not enough time in the day. We all say that at some point, sometimes frequently. But actually, depending on how we choose to use it, there is enough time. I know perfectly well that if I watched less TV, I would get more done of a productive nature—so I make a choice. Less time on Facebook or YouTube, playing Frisbee or guitar, commenting on American Idol, or hanging at Starbucks—less on all of those could yield you more time too. The activities listed in the first paragraph above total 115 hours, but there are 168 hours in a week. It’s up to you how you spend the remaining 53—that’s more than seven every day—fooling around or doing laundry, attending a club meeting, dating, seeing a movie, or whatever else you want or need to do.

To be more productive, the first thing you need to do is determine your time management style. This may seem annoying, but it is really useful. For one week (do this with a friend, to compare notes and make getting it done more likely) write down everything you do and how long it takes. How long do morning preparations take you? Note how long it takes to get to school, to classes, to have lunch, to study, and whatever else needs doing, for the entire day. I bet you find surprises by the time the week ends.

If you work longer hours or have a family to care for, then your time is more constrained (and perhaps more unpredictable). But students manage all of these things and school. Often, paradoxically, those who have more to do are more effective and do better in school—and often in life.

Once you know where your time is spent, you can make your schedule work more effectively for you. The best strategy is to plan. That means you need some tools: a planner, a PDA, a calendar. Use whatever works best for you; I emphasize use. I myself prefer a Google calendar and lots of lists and Post-It sticky notes. Planning is not simply recording when you have a dinner date or a paper due. It involves looking ahead and also back. You look ahead to see, for example, when your paper is due, then look back to see where you have blocks of time to work on the paper. You should put tasks requiring long stretches of time, such as writing a term paper, in time blocks of an hour or more. Set a goal for a first draft and put that on your calendar. Make a date to show the draft to your professor. You not only impress your teacher but keep yourself from procrastinating. Other assignments, such as reading a novel for your literature class, may be done in small time chunks. Always have that book with you for the times when you’re on the bus to school or in line at the grocery, or just have some moments available. But do put the reading on your to-do list for the day.

Let’s discuss the to-do list. Keep a daily list of the main tasks you want or need to accomplish. You’re less likely to forget them that way. If you spend two hours working on your lab report, you know you’re that much ahead for the next day, even if it’s incomplete. Try this for a couple of days, and see if you don’t feel a little more proud of yourself when, at the end of the day, you can see “done” items crossed out. Sometimes you need to make the list come to life: set reminders in your calendar or PDA, or put sticky notes on your mirror. You can even ask friends to remind you to check your list, as you work on getting accustomed to using it.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get everything done. Situations can interfere: illness, family needs, a new priority at work. A good plan allows some wiggle room. Planning allows you to slow down; it is healthier. Move an item to the next day if you can’t get to it. But if you have to keep moving items, it’s an indication of a problem, and you should stop to see what’s happening.

One of the biggest factors interfering with a plan is fear. Really. You may be afraid you can’t write a paper, and so you put it off. It’s better to talk about matters making you anxious than to be paralyzed by the fear of them. This kind of fear can also relate to not being able to say no. Out of fear of being unpopular, you agree to go to a party you have no time for, chair a committee you have no time for, hang out when you know you should be studying or working. You can effectively say “no” by saying that you’re sorry but you have other plans, or are just swamped. You don’t have to explain more than that. You want to be the person with clear priorities, and that includes planning time for yourself. A nap means you are busy, as does the gym. And the time you lose because you got sick from lack of sleep or food or exercise is really time wasted.

Make achieving your goals a communal activity. Let someone else know your short-term goals. If you’re determined to have your lab report done by Thursday so you can enjoy your weekend, tell a friend. If you have to get grad school applications in by November 1, tell your mentor or advisor. If you need to be up early to exercise, find an exercise buddy. Others can help you stay focused and resist tempting distractions.

Setting priorities means you have to think about the long term. Why are you in college? You are there to gain the skills and credentials that will help your dreams come true. You are not there to drink the most beer, be president of the sorority, direct every play on campus, or win the final four in basketball. Your classwork, the job that allows you to stay in school or furthers your career plans, your health, and your relationships are your priorities. The balance can shift periodically, but you have to keep those four in your sights at all times.