From Ehh to A+

A guide to college survival from the perspective of a pro procrastinator college student who is striving to be better.

Anonymous said: When is it advisable to take hard classes, during the summer or fall/winter?

Dear Indecisive Class taker, 

I know how you feel. I have battled with this myself. Do I take classes during the summer or fall? Now there are pros and cons to each of these. For example, summer is relaxing and laid back. You won’t have to fret over your class load. It also cost extra dime. Which can be a big drawback for lots of people. Taking your harder classes during the summer would probably be easier but also more rigorous. At my university there are eight week courses. So for a regular sixteen week course…it is jam packed into eight awful weeks. Students are usually only taking one class though during the summer so it is manageable. 

If you can’t afford summer classes (which most of us can’t) then definitely take your hardest classes when you feel most recharged and have that go get em’ attitude. For me, I always do my best fall semester and have a slightly bad spring semester. The weather in my campus definitely affects my mood so I am grumpy during the spring. If you feel more focused in the spring then take them in the spring and vice versa. 

My advice is to take summer classes if you can afford them or take classes during your best semester. Hopefully that helps.

Sincerely,

Cassie

Dissecting the Big Bad Textbook

Hello, again! Sorry for the lateness. I have had a stressful March + April and making posts with pictures is super difficult work! Anyways…

Have you wondered why your professors have told you to buy a $200 book that is probably going to give you arthritis in your back? The truth is that it is a treasure trove of resources that will probably boost your grade, understanding, and self-esteem. How? Once you read the textbook and understand it, it will feel like an accomplishment. You understand the material better and you might even help other students too. 

The Textbook. The big scary monster book you probably never opened. Well maybe after this advice you may want to reconsider…

The Basics:

What most textbook have:

  • Table of Contents
  • Chapters with a set-up of their own
  • Study questions or main idea checkpoints
  • Vocabulary terms
  • Glossary
  • Useful resources like websites or other references

How to use it:

Use the glossary to look up a certain topic. I cheat like this all the time. Who has time to read 50+ pages? Some people may think this is reasonable but on top of a paper, studying for a test, and other 50+ page readings. NO ONE thinks it is possible. 

Look at the diagrams throughout the readings. They often summarize a whole chunk of a page then after you look at the diagram, skim the paragraph. 

Use your notes to your advantage. Take notes in class? Use them as an outline to the textbook. The professor knows where to focus his or her information. Use it as a guideline of reading the tex. Look for keywords and play ‘find the words in the text.’

Study the vocabulary. If you know the lingo then when you are reading, it will click in your head. Oh, that is what polyphenol oxidase means and then you can apply the functions  and importance of this enzyme, for example. Don’t browse over the vocab either. I always get similar words confused and switch them on exams. Don’t let this happen to you. Give each vocab word a distinct personality so you don’t confuse Sally with Sarah. 

image

Look at the study questions. I use to gloss over these but now I find them helpful. The textbook authors include these because they help with your information recall. You just read an interesting paragraph on gram-negative bacteria. You read the question and have no clue how to answer it. Read the paragraph again and try to answer the question. Study hack: read the questions before you start reading so you know where to focus your attention. 

Look for color. Making textbooks bright and beautiful cost money. Lots of it. So if you can’t possibly study anything. Look at all the diagrams and photos. It is usually where the authors want you to focus most of your attention. I mean, we are easily distracted college students and anything remotely colorful will draw our attention. 

Hopefully these tips help!

king-gavinofree said: Hi! I'm going to be a freshman in high school next year, but was thinking, "is there any way to get college credit?" I want to get a doctorate in forensics, but i'm not entirely sure what I want to DO in forensics, I want to be well rounded in all divisions in it, but I don't know how to start off on the right foot. Is there anything that you wished you'd done in high school? Or even some more college tips to prepare, (books, necessities, study tips, extras,etc) Thank you!

Dear king-gavinofree,

First, I have to say awesome username! I love all things Rooster Teeth. Hahaha. So many good times spent with RvB, RWBY, AH, and in general the shenanigans of the RT crew.

Now…moving on with the important question. If you are interested in forensics search for forensic programs in your area. Apply to an internship at your local police station or hospital and ask to work in the labs. The possibilities are endless. Get a feel for the vast field of forensics. 

You can probably read loads of books on forensic career choices too. When I decided my major I read a lot of books about it and researched it on the internet a bunch. I have no clue about forensics so I don’t know exactly how to reach out into the community for it but that is my best advice. 

Here are some general college tips to prepare for the oncoming storm. College is going to be difficult especially since you are going into the sciences. Sciences are crazy because it can range from difficult to ‘I can feel my brain cells dying.’ So, I would suggest developing good study habits now like reading a textbook, taking good notes during class, studying them, and writing excellent papers.  Try going through the motions first and maybe everything else will fall into place. 

Hopefully this helps. 

Sincerely,

Cassie

Anonymous said: I'm going to be a freshman in college next year and I know that buying textbooks are SO EXPENSIVE. Any tips on trying to save money? or make money? I don't have a job because my schedule doesn't allow any room for one.

Dear Money-Saving Freshmen, 

Oh, I have been there. I spent so much money on my textbooks. Here are some tips for you on how to get the best deals on your textbooks that cost about an arm and a foot. 

1. Ask around. There has to be a sophomore around that is using his introductory psych book as a paperweight. Post an ad on the online classifieds if your university has one. (They usually do. This is where many people find rides, roommates, apartments, etc..) 

2. Do your research. Type in the ISBN on the internet. The book should pop up and have several textbook websites where it is available. Try googling ‘cheap textbooks.’

3. Rent your books. Renting textbooks is amazing. There are so many cheap textbook rentals. I got a $200 textbook for $30. Awesome, right? If it is for your major…I suggest you buy it so that you textbooks to reference in the future. 

4. There is always amazon and half.com. If worst comes to worst just go to amazon or half.com. They are still going to be cheaper than your university bookstore. Plus, I believe they give great deals to us poor college students. 

5. Wait. Sometimes on the first day your professor will tell you that he doesn’t want to use a textbook or he has several copies on reserve at your university library. If you seriously want to save money, just go check out the textbook for studying. WARNING: This can lead to you not wanting to open the textbook at all because you have to walk or ride a bus to the library. 

Hopefully these tips help you! Good luck and enjoy your first year. Study on, study warrior!

Sincerely, 

Cassie

Anonymous said: HI. This blog is so so so helpful, Thank you. anyway, i am in year 12 at the moment in Australia and for what i want to do i don't need an ATAR (our GPA thing) so i think that is impacting my motivation. but i am finding it hard to keep a balanced life between everything, and i keep trying different things such as a timetable, lists and others but none of them stick. and my grades are reflecting this. I just don't know what to do and i can't seem to get going. Please help :(

Dear Anon, 

I am so sorry hearing about your situation. I am so pleased that you find this blog helpful despite my inability to properly update. I find that watching motivating speeches especially inspiring graduation speeches like Neil Gaiman’s ‘Make Good Art’ speech help me so much. I also listen to epic fantasy mixes and movie scores while I do homework and papers helps me greatly. 

I have been playing around with many ideas about motivation since I am unconventionalist (haha, made up a word!) at heart…and have come up with a weird but effective solution. It may not work for you but hey what do you have to lose? 

Write a motivational letter to yourself. 

Yeah, it sounds so stupid but it works. Write it and pour out your heart and soul into it about how much you love yourself and want yourself to succeed. This is also a self-esteem technique too so killing two birds with one stone. 

After you have written your thoughtful, optimistic letter…seal it in an envelope with the date and stuff it in your desk drawer for a time you need to motivate yourself. Pull it out in emergency purposes and read it. After you read it go do what you have to do. 

After you get done…write another motivational letter and tell yourself how good it felt to finish something and seal it with the date. Repeat the process.

This can be an activity to increase your confidence and also practice writing about yourself for applications and scholarships. Awesome, right? 

Now go out and be motivated! You are an awesome person who is going to do amazing things. 

Sincerely,

Cassie

Writing an Application: Made Easier

Have you ever stressed out over having an application due for a scholarship or a study abroad program you are dying to do? Well, I have. I have a dozen of tabs open, flipping between the requirements, the program, fees, and other things. Why don’t I make this easier for all of you? 

Copy and paste the following into a word document and go through writing all of it down no matter how useless the answer. You can delete anything that doesn’t apply.

If you understand the application and the program better you will write a better application. Plus, it is good to have it all in one place.

Summary Sheet

Deadline:

Duration of Program: 

Program name:

Website:

About Program:

Requirements:

  • GPA
  • Major 
  • Classes required

Cost/Scholarship:

Application fee:

  • Room and Board cost
  • Flight cost

Recommendation forms: 

  • How many?
  • Any specific instructions about the letters?
  • What does the recommender need to write about?
  • Where do they need to send it to?

Resume required?

Transcript required? If so, official transcript?

Where to send it:

Why are you applying to this program?

What skills are required?

What will this program do for you?

What can you as a participant add to this program?

The Essays

Essays are almost always required in applications and they almost always require you to at a certain word count.Here are steps to make it easier:

  • Open a word document, title it, and save it. Auto recovery is awesome if your computer suddenly decides to die. 
  • Copy and paste the question into the header. This way you can write your essay and have a reminder of what the question is at the top of every page. It also doesn’t add to your word count. 
  • Write them then walk away. Come back and read them again. Make sure each sentence counts and it should flow.

Stay Organized

Do you have documents everywhere on your computer? Can’t find the scholarship or study abroad application?

  • Create a folder (right click when you are saving go to ‘new’ and then ‘create folder’)
  • Label this Study Abroad and Scholarship Applications
  • Create another folder for just this one application, label it. 
  • This where you save the summary sheet, essays, and other information for the program. 
  • I always save essays with the date so if you apply again you don’t end up getting them mixed up

The Ultimate Goal

Don’t sell yourself short. Use your weaknesses and make them your strengths. For example: I am not politically savvy but I driven to learn and work. I can show this through my improvement in a [insert subject] over the course of a year. Happy Application writing!

Sincerely,

Cassie