Nearly 80% of all college students will switch majors at some point. This makes it especially difficult for incoming freshman to determine the courses they will choose for their first year of college. Don’t stress if you’re still in the “undecided” camp; these tips will help you choose your college classes for your freshman year of college.
Once you’ve declared a major, this becomes much easier. Most colleges have advisors who will help you map the required courses for your chosen degree.
Choosing Your College Classes as a Freshman
· Use the required classes as a base.
As you are going through trying to pick out your classes, pick out and map out the classes you are required to take first. These include your degree prerequisites and the classes you need for your major.
· Map out a four-year plan.
Before you sign up for classes you should map out a four-year plan. Update this plan each semester. You modify it to make sure it accurately reflects the completed courses and the courses still needed for your chosen degree.
· Make a list and prioritize.
Make a list of the classes you want to take and put it next to your list of required classes. Prioritize the classes or rank them according to what classes are most important. After this you will be able to figure out where you can make sacrifices as far as your classes and scheduling goes.
· Work that schedule.
The most difficult aspect of choosing courses is getting a reasonable schedule. Some courses are offered only during certain terms, others require prerequisites that you haven’t yet taken, and others conflict with other required classes. Look at the course guide from previous and upcoming terms to plan your long-term course schedule, and do your best to stick to it.
· Go to class.
Go to more classes than you need the first day. You will get to see all the different classes and teachers and be able to choose better what you want for yourself. After you decide, you can drop the classes you don’t want to keep.
· It’s okay to pivot.
As we said, many students change their major as late as their fifth term in college. The good news is that the prerequisites for most majors are the same. Unless you choose a wildly different major halfway through college, you’re likely to still graduate on time if you work hard.
Most accomplished and productive people usually have one thing in common which is obsession with completion. When they are faced with projects, it is almost their compulsion to finish the task. If they are faced with a project, they would usually break it into manageable chunks especially when they are organized and systematic.
Some of them usually go for all-nighters especially when the project is too big to finish in a few sittings. But no matter how big or small the project is they usually get it done on time and in a consistent manner. If you want to be like them, it takes self discipline and hard work but you’ll get there.
However, if you focus on completion, you can finish tasks and projects in due time.
•Create your project list
If you have around 10 projects to complete, number them from 1 to 10 with 1 being the most important and 10 the least important. For example, you can put the project with the nearest deadline as the first priority. You should also label each project basing on their completion criteria. The first five on the list should be the go-list while the second half as the hold-list.
•Check your list daily
Make sure that you are making progress by completing small outlined tasks for the day. Your primary goal should be completing the project even if it means giving it a big push.
•Finish and start
Once you have finished one task, you can now start on a new project. Do not repopulate the list without doing the rest of the projects on the list. You can reload once all 10 have been finished.
You might be wondering whether this works and it does. Doing this kind of system teaches you to develop a trait that will help you become an accomplished student.
Doing more and working less is simply hard to implement. How then will you make things work out for you without wasting too much of your time? Below are some tips you can use to start working less and be more productive.
- Always keep track of how much you are actually getting done in a single day. It is common to feel guilty if you have things you need to do and yet you chose to have a lot of fun. Your current and future output when compared should show some increase. If you keep track of the things you actually did, it is easier for you to be more productive and spare time for some leisure.
- Avoid doing the same thing in one setting. Put some new experiences in between or discover some new methods of doing things so that you wouldn’t fuel the lazy person in you. You can join organizations, start new hobbies or find new challenges that would fuel your imagination and your mind.
- Know your motivation and keep it. If there are one or two things that can motivate or inspire you to do more, go for it. Not knowing what motivates you in doing something is an easy way to let the boredom creep in. Find a higher purpose why you should attend classes or finish assignments or projects.
- Sit down and focus on one task in one hour and you’ll realize you have done more than you can when you try to do all things at once in an eight our day.
The mere fact that you’re taking down notes means you wanted to retain the information. It’s important to take effective notes, or you’re wasting your time. Notes should be concise, highlight the most important parts of the chapter or lecture, and include references as to why you deemed them important. Too long and you’ll never read them, too short and you won’t remember what you were talking about.
Best Practices for Notetaking
- Identify what’s new to you. There is no point writing down something that you already know. Why will you write down the information you’ve known from the heart?
- Determine whether your professor will most likely use the information later. Focus on things that directly demonstrate the lesson you’re studying including pertinent names, places and dates.
- Tricky information. We all know our professors try to trigger our logical mind by setting out traps and tricky questions in their examination. Often the answers to these traps are given out during their lectures – not in the book. If you are particularly keen about observing such habits then it will be easier for you to crack it down.
- Side comments. Sometimes, side comments are ignored or considered unnecessary. However, most practical questions and answers can be found on side comments whether during lectures or books. Listen to the questions your peers are asking, and the information the professor gives them.
- Doubts. Your doubts and questions are the best source of useful information especially when you are faced with a tough exam ahead. There is not a single student in existence without questions about a certain lesson. If you have doubts, write it down and verify it in your research later.
What You Should Include in Your Notes
- Dates for your notes need to be in chronological order so you can understand the entire event
- Names for you to associate the events or ideas better
- Theories which essentially are the main key points
- Definition of things that is new to you
- Points of arguments and debates such as pros and cons, criticisms of an idea and both sides of the coin.
- Illustrations and exercises
While not technically notes, write down all your questions as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor and get you the answers you need.
Time management is one of the things that are not taught inside the four corners of a classroom. It is a skill you need to develop so that you become more productive and do many things all at once.
•Always read your emails and don’t leave anything sitting in your inbox. Sort out the emails into categories or folders. If the message needs more time before replying, leave it on the to-do folder and so forth. The point is you need to clear your inbox from clutter.
•Multitasking isn’t always good especially for college students who didn’t grow up in the technology invaded world. Multitasking is deadly if you don’t know how to juggle watching TV, replying to instant messages and doing homework all at once. Try to limit this practice.
•Prioritize the most important thing in your list. The first thing you need to do in the morning before you do anything is to list down the things you need to do whether you do this on your phone, notebook or paper is completely up to you.
•Read your emails daily but do it on schedule. It wouldn’t do you any good if you read emails as soon as it arrives. Even though someone contacted you, this doesn’t mean you have to respond immediately. If you want to be more productive at what you do, focus on the task that you specified on schedule and stick with it.
•Instead of making random notes just about anywhere, take advantage of bookmarking services. This will help you get rid of the clutter.
The best thing about time management is you get to achieve many things in a day without compromising on anything.
Most students worry about making the best out of their semester which is usually gauge by the lessons you have learned throughout. But a more important thing is – how?
Organization This is usually self-explanatory for college students who have a hard time coping with time management and even studying. But here are some practical things you can follow –
•Take notes – “A dull pencil is better than a sharp mind.” This is usually one of the greatest adages that you can follow about studying and learning. There are things that your sharp mind tends to miss later on but when you write everything down on your notebook or post-it papers you enhance your chance at remember it later on.
•Agenda list – It is important that you make a regular weekly list of itinerary. Your agenda should give you sense of direction and purpose making everything better every day.
•Real time inbox – This is a figurative term which simply refers to a permanent place in your room or apartment where you study. This is where you will place all your notes, books and assignment papers.
•Get to know your professors – Search engines usually give you short biography on your teachers. Alternatively and more accurately, you can search about them in your school library. Learn about their research interests and knowledge.
•Study partner/mentor – The secret to success is not about being alone but being able to find someone who can understand your habits and study style.
Written exams make up the majority of your exams in college, which in turn make up the majority of your grade point average. Your performance on written exams will be directly reflected in your grades.
Basically, they’re a pretty big deal.
How to Improve Your Performance on a Written Exam
There are two skills you must master in order to improve your performance on a written exam:
Both are essential skills that will not only give you a better chance of doing well on an exam, but they will also improve your academic performance overall.
When taking a written exam, first allocate enough time for you to complete all the questions. Briefly review the test to determine the number of questions and how long each of them should take.
Reviewing the test in advance gives you the option to determine which questions you know well, and which questions will require more effort.
There are three categories by which you can divide the sets of questions during an exam but even though this takes time the end result is usually worth it. The three categories include –
- Questions you know well (easy questions)
- Questions you know better (moderately hard)
- Questions you know nothing about (hard questions)
Always answer the questions in order of difficulty, not necessarily the order that they are in on the test.
Avoid leaving questions blank. An incomplete or incorrect answer will always be better than no answer at all.
The power of deduction is especially useful for moderate or difficult questions. Most people refer to this as an “educated guess,” because you use your education and contextual clues to determine the most likely answer.
Deduction is a powerful skill that can be practiced. Once you’ve answered all the easy and moderate questions, you can potentially use those answers to deduce the more difficult questions.
The average college student spends roughly 30 minutes each day just walking on campus. Double that for students who live off-campus and have to walk, ride, or drive a greater distance.
Just because that time is short, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything with it
Being Productive While Commuting
- Listen to audiobooks, podcasts and class recordings – It has been proven that listening can significantly improve your knowledge base. It helps you discover the things you might have missed before.
- Practice with flashcards – Flash cards are easy to read and it doesn’t even take 30 minutes to cover everything. If you don’t want to carry flashcards with you, you can download an app for your phone.
- Prioritize your day– Whether you use a paper planner or your phone’s calendar app, take a few minutes of your commute to organize your day.
- Proofread your papers – You can scan your papers and check for grammatical, spelling and sentence construction errors.
- Scan class notes – Reading while you are on the move is a big no-no, so scan the highlights or even listen to lectures you have recorded on your phone.
- Return calls, texts, and emails – If you’re like the rest of us, you’re probably awful at returning messages from people. Make it a daily priority during your commute to actually connect with people.
Your commute is also a good opportunity to focus on your personal growth. Use this time to practice breathing techniques and meditation as well!
College internships are a great way to explore your potential career options after graduating. As an added benefit, many internships have lead directly to careers.
The first step is to locate an internship you’re interested in.
Where to Find a College Internship
- Internships.com is rated by Forbes as one of the top 10 best career websites. There are thousands of internships available, all of which you can sort by area or location.
- The US Government accepts students and graduates into their internship programs. Learn more here.
- If non-profits are your thing, Idealist matches interns up with local organizations.
- Intern Abroad is a division of Go Abroad. You can sort opportunities by country or field of study.
Once you find some internships that sound perfect, it’s time to land them. If you totally nail down these areas, you’ll be able to get yourself an internship you love.
How to Land a College Internship
- Your resume is the first thing the organization will review. It should be impeccable. Proofread it, have a friend review it, and make sure that it is accurate. Now is not the time to stretch the truth.
- Your experience may seem like a deal-breaker, but most organizations are willing to accept an inexperienced intern if they have other unique experiences. You might not have previous job experience in government policy. But, if you’re a member of your student government or president of your sorority or fraternity, you can still have a solid chance. Look closely at all your experiences to determine if they are applicable
- Your application. For some competitive internship opportunities, applications can begin months in advance. Make sure you get yours in early, and that it is totally accurate.
- Your interview is where you can really shine. Dress appropriately for the position. Prepare for those open-ended interview questions like “What do you want to do with your life?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years.” Your answers don’t have to be lengthy, detailed plans—but they should have a sense of direction and purpose. Don’t just come prepared to answer questions, be ready to ask them. Ask whether the internship focuses on work production or actual learning opportunities, what careers previous interns ended up in, what skills the internship will teach you, and when you should expect to hear back.
- Your follow-up. Don’t let your application process end with the interview. If you asked when to follow up in your interview, be sure to give an extra day and then contact the organization. Even if they don’t choose you for that internship, following up can show that you are serious about working for them. This could help you land future internships or jobs.
Few people know how to create a successful outline, and that amazes me.
The first step is to understand the material you’re reading. If you’re simply taking chunks of the chapter, you’re not going to get anywhere. There are two different outlines: research outlines and chapter outlines. I’ll cover both here.
Every good research paper should start with a great outline. A great outline serves as the skeleton for your entire paper.
Once you’ve figured out your topic and the general direction of your paper, creating an outline is straightforward. You must thoroughly understand your thesis before completing the outline. If you’re confused or stuck on a thesis, don’t worry about it until the end. Start with the information.
Once you’ve gathered your research, you generally know the idea of what you want to talk about first. If you’re completely lost, choose the idea that would be a great opener – something that’s controversial, interesting or your audience would agree with. To choose what’s next in line, ask yourself, “After idea A, what is an easy transition?” If you’re going from dogs to VCRs, there’s probably not going to be an easy connection. Transitions between different sections can be made very simple if you choose topics that seem to flow well together. Also remember that nothing is set in stone. If later you realize you should have put topic B where topic F is, change it.
Because this article is so long, I’m going to cut it off here and allow you to view the rest of entry if you choose to do so. (more…)