Student Success Stories: Jessica H.
Jessica H.'s Academic Success Story
The biggest change I made between high school and college was that I stopped procrastinating. In high school is was acceptable even expected to wait until the last minute to study for a test or write a paper, but it took me very little time to find out that I couldn't procrastinate any more. During my first semester freshman year I had to write a 12 page research paper for a political science class, and I waited until the night before it was due to start writing it. Just as I settled down to begin my paper at around 8 o'clock at night, my roommate decided to heat her metal containing thermos up in the Microwave and it almost blew up. The fire alarm went off and public safety had to come and even once they were all gone the awful burning smell lingered for hours. I had to sit in the common room all night long and until 3:45 pm the next day to finish the paper. I was exhausted and I promised myself that I would never do that again. I definitely learned my lesson.
My overall study method: The best word to describe my test preparation is thorough. I don't take any shortcuts because they usually don't work. I read the material and outline it so that I can read over my notes a couple of times before the exam. There are very few people who can read a text book and retain all the detailed information they read, and I'm not one of them. I have to put in the time, but it always pays off. I make a realistic plan before I start studying for a test or writing a paper. I can estimate how long it takes me to complete a chapter and then I plan accordingly.
My test study method: For tests that involve mathematics or equations of some sort I just do lots of practice problems so they become second nature to me.
My time management secret: I write everything down. When I know everything that I need to get done for a given week I can plan better when I need to study. If I know that on a particular day I don't have any time at all than I will wake up earlier and get in some studying time then. I also know myself enough to not schedule studying for late at night since I won't be able to stay awake. So being realistic is also one of the most important things.
How I deal with multiple projects/tests: It's all about time management. I personally find it easier to work on a couple of different projects in the same day because you don't get too overwhelmed by one task. It feels like you're taking a break from one thing, and less like you're doing a lot of work at once this way. it's also important to prioritize. Some exams and projects weigh more than others and it's important to put more time into those that weigh more. It would be nice to put 100% into everything but that kind of time doesn't exist. So you do your best and cut corners where it won't affect your overall grade.
My overall study method: I like to spread my studying over several days, but when its not possible I make sure to take breaks while studying. When I feel like I'm not retaining any more information I take a break for a bit and do something else, but the hardest part is getting back to studying so I usually set a time limit for the break and stick to it.
How I've overcome an initial bad grade: I freaked out, but trust me it's just not worth it. I went through a few days of feeling sorry for myself and angry with myself for not studying enough, but it was all for nothing. I ended up getting an A in the class and realizing that my tantrum served no purpose. If you get a bad grade just figure out what you did wrong and find a way to change it before the next test or paper comes along. If your professor is approachable, and most of them are, ask them for advice they may have some insights for you.
My strategies for written assignments: Always have someone else edit your paper, it's not enough to edit it yourself because you won't be able to catch all the mistakes.
How I succeed in team projects: Every group project is different, if you're a perfectionist like me it will be hard to trust others to get the work done properly but it's important to hold back a bit and let everyone else contribute. I always volunteer to do the final edit or regrouping of all the material and I get the chance to make sure the project is great. Usually there's no one else in the group who wants this task so it works out. If You're presenting the project always do a run-through, you don't want to look unprepared, it looks a lot worse than you can imagine.
English, math, foreign language tips: Try to take a foreign language course with a friend, you learn a lot more when you repeat things to each other. I took a Spanish class with my best friend and we just used our Spanish during our daily lives, it was more for fun than to really learn, but we ended up learning a lot and even retaining it for longer than I expected us to. As for math you have to do practice problems its just like playing an instrument you have to practice in order for the music to flow.
Here are my final words of wisdom for students who want to get better grades in college: Don't mess up your first semester; it's hard to recover from a low GPA. You can still have fun and explore your new freedoms but make sure you leave plenty of time to study. First year classes the 101's are difficult on purpose. Don't be fooled by it being a beginner course. College is different from high school its not as easy to talk your professor into bumping your grade up. A large part of succeeding in your classes is figuring out the professor and his/her expectations. Some are more demanding than others and those courses that have demanding professors will usually take up more of your time so make sure you leave room in your life to dedicate your time to it. Also be smart about how you select your courses. Don't take too many tough courses in one semester if you think ahead you can create a decent schedule every semester where only one or two classes are very challenging and the rest will be average. Also try to take a full course load (15 credits) your first semester or else you will have to load up another semester.
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