Tips on how to get through college like a pro

So you want to graduate and stay sane?

By David A. Chiodaroli

Staff Writer

Another year, another semester of school. If you’re a green as grass freshman, or a even just a weary sophomore, you’re probably on the verge of a panic attack right now. While you tell yourself that you know how to handle it, I’m willing to bet that there are some things you’re dreading about this upcoming school year. How do I get enough sleep and complete my homework assignments? How do I balance my work and social life? How do I know if that girl in CMAT-272 likes me?

While some questions are easy to answer (hint: she probably doesn’t), others require considerable work, in order to better yourself for the classes ahead. Thankfully, you have me to give you some much needed advice on how to make it through another semester of exams, assignments, and overpriced Pearson textbooks. Without further adieu, let’s hit the ground running with something every student is familiar with: procrastination.

Try not to procrastinate: I know, it’s easier said than done, but procrastination can be a real killer of productivity, especially if you’re working on something with a tight deadline. I admit that I do occasionally procrastinate, however, I eventually snap to it and, as Larry the Cable Guy would say, get’r done. While putting your assignment off for an hour or two while you deflate after a long day can be encouraged, waiting until the day before it’s due is a completely different matter. Sure, telling your- self that you work better while under pressure is an easy excuse. But more often than not, the work you produce under the strain of a deadline will be sub-par compared to something that was prepared in advance.

Rather than dwell on how much you don’t want to do something, think instead of how great you will feel when that something is finally done. When I get an assignment, like an essay, I try to complete a rough version of it a week prior to its due date. That gives me enough time to focus on my other assignments and correct any issues needing to be amended. Of course, this is harder to do with classes that meet two or more times a week. However, I’ve noticed that these classes will usually assign large tasks at least seven days in advance. This way, you’ll be able to attack each of your homework assignments and still have time to spare. Which brings me to my next tip…

Make a routine for yourself: Just like how your class schedule is ar- ranged according to day, so should your homework. While you may be tempted to try and do all of your homework at once, doing so would usually result in you getting overworked. Therefor, segment your homework, and tackle certain sub- jects on specific days. I usually do my homework the night it was assigned, but it’s up to you on how you want to segment your schedule. Perhaps it’s math on Wednesday, Writing on Thursday, and Ethics on Sunday. Find a routine that works for you by experimenting until you find one that fits your life the best.

And while you’re at it, try to stay ahead of the curb. Most professors won’t mind if you work ahead, so if you really enjoy the book for ENGL- 333 and want to finish it, then finish it. As someone who has taken a lot of english classes, I can tell you that thereisnothingmoresatisfyingthan finishing all of your reading weeks before the end of the semester. No one ever got an F for overachieving, so what do you have to lose?

Give yourself time to breathe: No one ever said that college was easy. On top of homework and your class schedule, you’ve got a job, a family, and perhaps children. You’re going to be spending a lot of time tackling that tremendous workload, and it can often be difficult to make any time for yourself. However, while getting everything done on time is critical, taking a break and just focusing on yourself is just as important.

If you think this is a tall order, consider what I mentioned earlier. If you make a schedule that fits around your needs, then you will have time to relax and prepare for what’s next. Even if you don’t manage to have an entire day to yourself, at least you can have pockets of time during the day or night where you can put everything aside and exhale.

Finally, I want to talk to you a little bit about technology. By now, you probably know of the school’s multiple Wifi signals, your Outlook inbox, and the Microsoft Office 365 subscription that is paid for through your tuition (by the way, that subscription expires when you graduate, so consider downloading a non-subscription based version of Office before you take your cap and gown). However, you have another useful tool at your disposal that, for some reason, is rarely talked about or even mentioned by the faculty. Thankfully, I’m more than willing to spill the beans on UB’s best kept secret, and a life hack I use to stay on top of my writing assignments.

The G-Suite: You’ve no doubt heard of Google Docs, Slides and Sheets, but did you know that the University has its own Google Drive, with all the utilities you’ve come to know and love? So what does this mean for you? Well, for starters, you can begin a document, presentation or a spreadsheet on your personal drive on your computer at home, share it with the school’s drive, and pick up where you left off at the library or in one of the many computer labs on campus. Also, unlike Office Online, you can edit your documents in your spare time, if you have any of the Google apps on your smartphone or tablet, which is a whole lot easier than using the browser version. And the best part? It’s completely free.

All you need to access the school’s Drive is to sign into Google using your UB credentials, get a Google account of your own, and boom, you’re done. In addition to document sharing, the G-Suite also makes it easier to send photos and videos to other students and professors, so you never have to worry about how big your attachments are before you send them.

I hope this advice gives you the piece of mind needed to succeed during the next semester. Many of what I just told you were things I had to learn on my own, through trial and error. While I cannot make you do any of the things I’ve mentioned in this article, I hope you give them a shot, and perhaps this semester will be a little easier.

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