Getting the School Year off to the Best Possible Start

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As it always does, the summer seems to have come to an end all too quickly. If you're one of the many students feeling a little reluctant about being back at school, it's time to change your outlook and to take some simple steps to ensure you get the school year off to a great start.

 

Create a Schedule and Daily To-Do List

If you want to survive college or university, you should have a comprehensive weekly schedule and daily to-do list. It’s the most effective way to stay organized, keep your priorities straight and ensure you complete all your important tasks and assignments. For optimal organization, consider using a cellphone app or a school planner. Create a daily to-do list with specific activities and assignments, then scratch the tasks off your list as you complete them. Alternatively, your weekly schedule can be vaguer and more open ended. Leave room for schedule changes and other surprises. Most importantly, remember that the more organized you are, the easier it will be to meet deadlines, schedule study times and perform well academically.

 

Use Student Software Programs and Apps

Plenty of software programs and apps are designed for students. They organize coursework and daily schedules, provide a system for balancing your work, school and personal life, provide reminders and help increase productivity and academic performance. There’s also software, apps and websites designed to help with assignments, projects or specific subjects. Apps and websites dedicated to math are particularly popular and useful. Some software and apps can even help you perform research, take notes and write essays. However, if an app isn’t enough, you can seek assistance at your campus learning centre.

 

Prepare to Live Independently

Independence is one of the most appealing aspects of attending college or university. Whether you’re living on campus or off campus in Ottawa student housing, living on your own can be incredibly fun, but also a little stressful at times. Get prepared and minimize stress!

  • Pack only the essentials
  • Choose your roommate(s) well (if applicable)
  • Learn as much as possible about your roommate(s)
  • Set ground rules
  • Choose affordable housing in a safe, student-friendly neighbourhood and building
  • Learn effective time-management and how to balance your work, school and personal life
  • Keep in touch with your friends and family
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Learn how to pay bills, shop for food and household products, clean, do laundry and cook simple meals
  • Ask for help reading and understanding your lease

 

Tackle Your Distractions

Distractions are one of the top reasons postsecondary students drop out. Although parties, video games, social media, hanging out with friends, etc. may be fun, they may also be so distracting that they negatively affect your academic performance. Staying up late all the time can also exacerbate stress and anxiety while limiting sleep. A lack of sleep can cause fatigue (obviously), confusion, irritability, health problems and so much more. It can also worsen stress and/or anxiety. All of these issues will negatively impact your ability to retain and recall information, concentrate in class and understand certain concepts. Keep the distractions to a minimum:

  • Only study in a quiet environment
  • Avoid going to parties during exam time
  • Set ground rules with yourself and your friends about partying, hanging out, etc. – stick to them!
  • Don’t overstuff your schedule by engaging in more activities than your time allows
  • Schedule leisure time, including spending time with loved ones
  • Monitor your leisure time, especially time spent on social media or doing online activities
  • Take care of your priorities before doing the fun stuff
  • Follow a schedule

 

Practice Taking Notes

Unbeknownst to many, notetaking is tantamount to the learning process. The better your notes, the easier it is to recall and retain information. Writing notes can also help with understanding. Often, it’s easier to understand concepts when you explain them to yourself. However, not all notes are comprehensive. For comprehensive notes, make sure they’re organized, use appropriate abbreviations and short phrases and only take notes on the most important points, for instance, don’t take too many or too few. Additionally, use multiple mediums; use note cards for vocabulary or if you’re taking notes from an online textbook, use the software provided to take notes or highlight pertinent information.

 

Now's the time to set a plan in place for kicking off the 2018/2019 school year in the best possible way.

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