Taking Back Your Time: How to Manage Your Time in Your First Semester

Hey everyone! 

 As the beginning of your first year at Ohio State starts to come around in full swing, everything might start to feel very overwhelming. This rang true for me, as my first year didn’t result in academic success. I think the main reason behind my failure to succeed in my major (Zoology/Pre-Medicine) was that I did not manage my time well AT ALL. I had no system to keep track of my events and homework, and I didn’t make a responsible schedule for myself that balanced my free-time and what should have been study time. After finally making a thorough schedule the summer before my second-year, I realized how important it is to stay organized and manage the time I have responsibly. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now without one. Below are some quick Why’s and How’s of organizing a busy schedule. 

 Why? 

I used to think that I wasn’t the type of person who benefited from a planner (or note-taking for that matter) but as the year rolled around, I quickly became overwhelmed in a futile attempt to keep up with everything. The fact of the matter is, you can’t remember everything on your own. In college, your schedule is almost entirely up to you and having some sort of event-organizing device is simply crucial to keeping sanity AND a balanced scheduled.     

 How? 

Okay, I might sound like a broken record, so how do you go about this practically? For those of you who’ve never needed to use a calendar or planner, it might be hard to start (it was for me). These are some ideas that might work for you: 

 Online Calendars: 

Google Calendar, iCloud Calendar, and Outlook Calendar are all great examples of free online calendars. This my personal first choice (I love Google Calendar). This offers an easy and simple way to color-code, have high accessibility (your phone is probably always on you), and I personally think it’s the least tedious option. Here’s an example of what one of my weeks looks like in Google Calendar: 

 

Physical Planner:  

For some, this is the best choice. Having a planner you can customize and hand-write in is a very appealing option (some studies show that handwriting improves memory). The only stipulation about these is that the nicer versions cost money, you have to write, and you’re not always going to have it.

 At the very least, a reminders app: 

Just having something to jot down quick reminders will improve your quality of life tenfold. 

I hope these few quick tips help get your first year off in an organized way!

 

Did Somebody Say Finals Week?

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the Oval is full of life. In the forefront of your mind, you are likely thinking about the summer plans taking place shortly. No matter what you will be doing, we all need some relaxation time! Amidst all of this happiness, you realize that the semester is almost over… meaning finals week is soon approaching us. Finals week this time of year can be a challenge for a few reasons:

  • The weather is beautiful and you want to spend every moment outside
  • This might be your last time on campus until the fall, so you want to take in every moment
  • You have to saying goodbye and see you later to the many friends you have made this year
  • You’re excited about summer plans and a long, much needed break

Keeping all of this in mind, here are some tips to tackle finals week and stay on top- even when you have spring fever.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

The most precious thing that we have as college students is time. With only two weeks left and a lot to do, good time management is key. Make a list of things you have to get done each day. The key is to set small goals so you don’t get overwhelmed. For me, I make a to-do list for each day and set small, realistic tasks I know I can accomplish. Plus, it is so gratifying to finish a to-do list!

Use the outdoors to your advantage

The idea of being stuck inside the library for the next two weeks seems sad, but if you utilize the great spaces on campus you can enjoy the outdoors, too. Even if studying outside isn’t for you, try taking a a break by walking or tossing a Frisbee outside.

  • Study outside on a bench, picnic table, or grass
  • The courtyard in Hagerty Hall is a great place to study and relax
  • Try the nice grassy courtyard in between Park-Stradley and Siebert Halls

Take advantage of Reading Day

The Office of Student Life puts on an an entire day of free activities and events. Take a study break with some friends or even try a workout class to give your brain a rest. You can check out the schedule online for this year’s reading day, which is Tuesday, April 26.

Coordinate when you are moving out

With all of the assignments and studying, you might forget that you will need to make plans to move out of your residence hall if you live on campus. Talk to your RA or reach out to your Peer Leader if you need packing advice and travel tips, and review the information on the housing website to make sure you’re following move-out procedures correctly.

Make plans to stay in touch with your friends

All of your friends might be done with finals at different times, so it is important to stay on top of this. Plan ways to stay in touch with your friends over the summer, whether that be through Skype, texting, or even a trip! Having some trouble thinking of ways to stay in touch with your friends? Contact a Peer Leader!

Be thankful!

One of my most important values is gratitude, for a simple thank you goes a long way. I would not be at the place I am now without the professors, friends, and family who have guided me through my Ohio State journey. Make sure to thank those that made an impact on you before you leave for the summer. Here are a few ideas of people to thank:

  • The professor in the class you really enjoyed this semester, or the TA who helped you in your class
  • The cashier at the Ohio Union who always swiped your BuckID
  • The cleaning staff in your residence hall who made your building clean and safe
  • Your RA for building community and supporting you throughout your first year of college
  • The friends you have made at Ohio State
  • Your family for supporting you along this journey

With these tips, I hope you can tackle finals week. Take a deep breath and enter finals week organized, and of course thankful for a great first year.

Prepping for Finals Week

Can you believe that final exams are right around the corner? It seems like we went from week 1 to week 14 in 60 seconds. I know it can be especially tricky to find motivation to focus and study when we just came back from a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving break. All I want to do is sit on my couch wearing sweatpants and watching endless seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. Trust me–my textbooks never seem more appealing than Netflix. So, it’s a good thing that Ohio State gives us a day off to gear up for exams. This beautiful day is called Reading Day.

You might be thinking: “What the heck is Reading Day?”

Reading Day falls between the last day of classes and the first day of exams. This year, Reading Day is on Thursday, December 10th. This day is meant to be used for studying and preparing for exams. So, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your notes organized from every class, print off those study guides, and try not to drown in the endless piles of notecards (maybe that’s just me…) However, this is also a really good way to take a moment to breathe and collect yourself before the stress of exams becomes overwhelming.

      

Here are some helpful ways to relax and de-stress: take some time to stretch, head to Berry Café and treat yourself to a latte, watch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix, or just laugh with some friends (my personal favorite.) You can also check out these fitness classes and sessions held at the RPAC, Union, and Younkin Success Center.

The Office of Student Life works very hard to put together activities and events to help students alleviate some stress during the week. Whether you venture out across campus or stay in your room to study, it’s very important to give yourself a break. Stress and anxiety can build in the days and weeks leading up to finals, so take some time to clear your head and re-focus your energy. I know it can seem counterproductive to take a break and “lose study time,” but even a 15-minute break can supply more benefits than you think.

Stay tuned for some fun events put on by yours truly, the Peer Leader staff! We’re available to help you figure some studying or time management strategies, find ways to relax, or answer any other questions you might have!

Feel free to reach out to your Peer Leader, or you can email me directly at: hageman.64s@osu.edu.

New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy, Successful Second Semester

It’s that time of year again! The start of a new semester, a fresh slate, and a Twitter feed full of #NewYearNewMe posts. Everyone wants to make positive changes for the new year, but sometimes following through can be a little tricky, especially for busy, broke college students. I’m here to offer you five easy resolutions that can make your academic, professional, and personal life that much better in 2015!

Dedicate time to go the RPAC a few times a week (and not just for the food at Courtside Cafe).

As Ohio State students, we are blessed to have such a beautiful facility at our disposal. Take advantage of the many resources it houses such as group fitness classes, personal training, and wellness coaching! When you’re done, you can treat yourself to the sauna, the hot tub, or even a massage!

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Drop the “college kid” diet.

Yes, we know. Ramen Noodles are good. They don’t really do much for you, though. Give your body the fuel it deserves with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. Also, take a couple minutes and visit the University Dining website to see what’s in the foods YOU are buying at the dining halls. Need help making healthy food choices? The Student Wellness Center in the RPAC can help you design a plan that’s tailored to your body’s specific needs! Lastly, when grabbing last minute items to “fill” a block, try those Good Greens Bars instead of chips or cookies!

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Keep yourself, and your space, organized!

Sharing a space with one, two, or three other people can be hard. Sharing a messy and cluttered space is ten times harder. Do yourself (and your roommates) a favor by clearing out any junk that may have accumulated from last semester. This means the fridge, any common areas, desks, and closet space. I know you’re sick of accidentally grabbing your roommate’s socks instead of your own, or smelling that General Tso’s Chicken that’s been on the top shelf since October. Do you find yourself forgetting important deadlines or losing class notes? Invest in one (or more) of the following!

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Start preparing for midterm exams NOW!

I know it’s hard to even acknowledge the existence of midterms after just finishing up “Syllabus Week”, but after last semester we all know that they have a way of sneaking up on us. Start organizing your notes now by keeping them in a safe and easy-access spot, like a binder or computer file, so that they will be easier to find and study from later. Also, start study guides of important tidbits your professors say in class (listen for “this will be on the exam”, or “this would make a good exam question”).

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Branch out and meet new Buckeyes!

College isn’t just about passing classes and getting a degree. Make time to meet new people and get involved on campus! Little things like keeping your door open when you’re in your room or suggesting you and some floor mates go on a “dinner date” to Sloopy’s can make a difference in your semester! Take the leap and start a conversation with the person next to you in class. They might be involved in a club or organization you might be interested in!

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Don’t Fear Finals: 5 Study Tips From an Upperclassman

Finals are one of those things you think you’ll never get use to while you’re in college. But after five semesters of college, I can honestly tell you that they get more manageable as time goes on. The first set may seem overwhelming now, but when you get a few under your belt you will realize that they aren’t as terrible as they might seem. For now, here are a few ways to make your life a little easier.

1. Ask questions and take advantage of office hours.

I never realized the benefit of going to office hours and asking questions until I actually went and tried it for myself. Most people don’t like to ask questions in front of a huge lecture hall (I know I don’t) and may leave a little unsure of the material. Professors love when students come to office hours and make an effort to understand their material. It shows that you are putting in the time to understand the course, and it really makes you stand out. Professors are great to work with one on one and are great resources if you are ever confused. It also helps to go straight to the source because nobody can understand a professor’s lecture better than the professor.

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2. Study a little bit each day.

Don’t procrastinate. If you start a few days in advance and study a little bit each day, it makes going through all of the material a little less overwhelming. I find it helpful to write in my planner specific things and times that I want to study each day. This helps me balance studying with all of the other things I have going on during the day. Also, I find it helpful to take short breaks while I am studying for extended periods of time. It gives my brain a chance to relax and regroup and helps me study more effectively for longer.

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3. Find a study spot that works best for you.

Everybody studies better in different places. Some prefer complete quiet, and others don’t mind studying around a lot of people, so find a place that suits you best and stick to it. I really enjoy sitting in front of the big fireplaces in the Union or finding a table in Thompson and camping out for a few hours. Finding a place where you are comfortable and can focus will be crucial to studying well.

Some popular study spots include:

  • 18th Ave Library
  • The Wexner Center for the Arts
  • Billy Ireland Cartoon Library
  • Geology Library in Orton Hall
  • Prior Health Sciences Library
  • RPAC
  • Residence Hall basements
  • Academic classrooms

4. Find a way to study that works for you.

Not all the same study habits work for the same people. Find what works best for you and run with it! You may find that what you have been doing all along can be better by adding in different study habits. Sometimes I color coordinate my notes with pens or highlighters to make the information clear and separate. Other times I will use Quizlet to create an online practice test switch it up (they also have an app that you can use on the go). Finding study methods that work for you will help you to understand the material faster and more thoroughly.

5. Take care of yourself.

I understand firsthand the effects that finals have on our schedules. It is easy to sacrifice sleep for a few extra hours of studying or to eat out all week for the sake of time. It is important to take care of your body during finals week so that you can stay healthy and on top of your game. Get good amounts of sleep and drink a lot of water! If you are going to order out, try to aim for a healthier alternative rather than the greasy foods that are high in fats and sugars. Maintaining a healthy body will help your brain be able to work more effectively while you study. After all, if you aren’t mentally present because you’re exhausted, then your ‘studying’ isn’t doing you much good anyway!

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The 16-Week-Long Emotional Roller Coaster

The transition into college life can be a stressful time, as there are plenty of changes that you go through. Many of the major transitions occurred within the first couple days: including doing your own laundry, getting your own meals, and being more independent overall.

The next set of transitions we all face our first semester deals with academics. Some of us may have never needed to study, others may need to alter their study habits to acclimate to the college workload. Regardless of the changes you have had to overcome, we all go through a similar roller coaster of emotions our first semester here.

WEEK 1:

The first week is full of nerves. It’s exciting to finally live by your own rules. This can also be terrifying.

You might have experienced a broad spectrum of emotions on move-in day. It might have been a little nerve-wracking making your way through all of the traffic and sitting in the car as you made the journey from the Schottenstein Center to your residence hall.

Your parents may have been a little on edge knowing that they only had a couple more hours before they would be saying goodbye for a while. You most likely hadn’t met your roommate before move-in day and that in and of itself can be nerve-wracking — you will be spending a year in close quarters with this stranger.

But the best thing about move-in day is that it marks the day you start making your own decisions about your daily routine. No one is there to tell you when to go to bed, nag you about studying, or tell you that you can’t stay out late. That’s pretty exciting!

The first week also features all of the Welcome Week activities Ohio State has to offer. There were tons of events to go to including the student involvement fair (and there will be another involvement fair next semester).

WEEKS 2-4:

During these weeks you start getting into a routine and classes seem manageable. But it’s easy to choose being social over being studious. A lot of us fall victim to procrastination and a false belief that college will be as easy as high school. You can always study tomorrow, right? (WRONG)

WEEKS 5-7:

Then, midterms hit! Going into your first midterm you might not realize if you need to change your study habits but after your first week of midterms it will become fairly clear.

If your study habits aren’t where you need them to be you can always go get help. The Dennis Learning Center  provides workshops to improve your test-taking, note-taking, and studying strategies, just to name a few. Another great resource is your professors’ office hours. Don’t be afraid to use these to your advantage! No one knows what you should be focusing on better than your professor or TA and it can’t hurt to stop in and be more than just a name on a roster.

WEEKS 8-13:

If you haven’t felt homesick yet you might start to now. All the newness of college life has worn off. You have fallen into a routine and survived your first set of midterms. If your midterms didn’t go as well as planned, you might be a tad stressed about the rest of the semester. If you are feeling stressed and want to talk to someone, the Office of Student Life offers Counseling and Consultation Services, and you can get up to 10 free sessions as a student at Ohio State.

Week 14:

Thanksgiving break is finally upon us! Not everyone goes home for Thanksgiving but for those who do it’s a nice break from college life. It’s nice to see family and beloved pets. Whether you go home or not, school is the last thing on anyone’s mind during this week.

Another thing to be excited about this week is that we play our rivals from the school up North on our home turf! #GoBucks

Week 15:

Thanksgiving break left us all with just a taste of what is to come in another two weeks. Winter break is extremely close, but we must first make it through the last week of classes and then finals. Studying is the last thing anyone wants to do. It’s cold outside, it’s the end of the semester, we just want a break.

Week 16:

The beginning of finals is upon us!

We have made it to the home stretch. Ohio State offers tons of opportunities to take some much-needed study breaks. Keep your eyes peeled for different ways to relax. In previous years they have had therapy dogs come to Thompson Library. What’s more perfect than playing with puppies?

Remember to use your resources while studying! Go to tutoring sessions, go to office hours, form study groups, and take breaks!

After finals, enjoy your break! You deserve it!

Tips for SUMMER!

At this point in the semester, your brain may be thinking (perhaps during inconvenient times, like when studying for your final exams) about the endless possibilities of what is to come this summer. While you relax and let your brain rest with fun activities like bonfires, swimming, sun, friends, family, grilling, etc., I want to remind you that college extends past your first year.

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That’s right, you get to come back to campus as a knowledgeable sophomore! Ohio State works hard to communicate and prepare you for a smooth transition in the months before and throughout your first year. Your summer after your first year is a little different. The university is sending you messages about important dates and deadlines on a less frequent basis. If you truly wanted to, you could leave for the summer and be completely separated and removed from the place you called home for the last nine months.

Now, don’t stress and think that the only way to stay connected and have an easy transition back is if you literally stay here all summer. While that may be possible and convenient for some, there are definitely other opportunities and ways to stay involved. I am here with tips for making an easy transition to your second year!

Stay connected with your Ohio State friends

This summer, it is very likely you’ll be separated from the new friends you made this year; however, this doesn’t mean you have to be disconnected. Consider setting up a GroupMe account. Here, you can all chat and stay updated in one, continuing conversation throughout the summer. Staying connected in this way will allow you to keep updated so when you do come back to campus your relationships can pick up right where they left off.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to stay connected for so many different reasons. First, it can be a great opportunity to come back to campus. There are several organizations that still look for volunteers in the summer months and work really close to campus. You could benefit the Columbus community and also pop back, check up and take a walk around campus in one activity…and what is better than that? To make the experience even more enjoyable, you could even involve your friends. Send out a text message through your new GroupMe account and make a friend date out of volunteering!

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Review

Yes, I know it is summer and I fully understand that the majority of us do not want to spend it studying or dealing with academia in any way. However, you don’t want to forget all of the information you just spent the last nine months mastering, do you? So even though it may not be most fun, reviewing a bit of the information in the summer may be a good idea.

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So how can you make this happen? We all have unique morning rituals that usually involve eating. (If your ritual doesn’t, it should: breakfast is the most important meal!) I have found that this is a great time to be a little productive. My mornings were pretty basic: woke up, drank a cup of coffee, and then ate breakfast. Before my cup of coffee I was often dysfunctional, but afterward I found that I could focus and had some convenient downtime while eating. Eventually, I figured out that I could fill this with some reading. I designated Monday and Tuesday morning as my days and on those morning would spend my time eating and skimming over my lessons and notes from my classes. On the other days, I would forget about school and either watch TV or read a book. Soon it became part of my schedule and I was surprised at how easy it was to do every week. Everyone has a different schedule so it is up to you to decide how many days and when the timing would work. Coming from personal experience I can not tell you how much this simple task helped prepare me. Keeping your brain active, specifically with information that pertains to your next school year, will truly make the transition back into the rigorous college curriculum that much easier.

Summer is great for so many reasons, but it is not just limited to only family and vacations. As you can see there are some easy things that you can be doing for school, too. Before you know it, August will be rolling around and the semester will be starting up again. Be as prepared as possible to take on campus as successful second year students.

10 Things I Did Instead of Studying!

Well, Buckeyes, spring break has come to a close and all I can say is…Why so soon?!

Today I want to see just how many of my proud fellow Buckeyes are suffering from the highly contagious and dreaded disease known as (dun dun dun) PROCRASTINATION!

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Most of us have been there: It’s the night before an exam, homework or a paper is due, and you’ve been staring at your computer for the last 3 hours with absolutely nothing to show for your inner turmoil. Afterward, you promise yourself you won’t wait until last minute ever again, but the real question is how do we get here in the first place? Here’s my list of things I consider to be my biggest time-wasting temptations:

Watching anything and everything interesting on Netflix or Hulu.

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Whether you like to watch a series at a time or explore the wide-ranging selection of B-Movies, Netflix is an awesome way to help the hours pass by.

Facebooking, Tweeting, Skyping, Instagramming, etc.

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In one second you can be reading an article in an academic journal and the next you’re liking the last 10 statuses your buddies posted about the crappy weather outside.

Finding memes to post that illustrate just how distracted you feel.

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You know you’ve done it! Whether it’s Condescending Wonka, Futurama Fry or ermahgerd girl, you’ve found a meme that speaks to you and posted it for all of your friends to see.

Watching videos on YouTube.

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You can sink quite a few hours into watching just about anything on YouTube; in the land of funny cats and viral videos, you are sure to be entertained.

Cleaning (a new level of desperation, but effective).

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Hmmm, study for your Calc midterm or do the dishes? Normally I’d go with the third option (neither); however, if you need to feel like you’ve accomplished something while doing basically nothing, cleaning your room, apartment or house is always a great option.

Playing with your (or others’) pets.

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Pretty self-explanatory; however, the amount of creativity you are capable of possessing when needing a distraction can be quite scary. 

Complaining to others about whatever assignment you have due.

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All of your buddies are going to the movies but you have economics homework due. What’s wrong with texting them sad face emoticons all night? After all, misery loves company.

 Browsing Pinterest.

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Clothes, funny memes, food, celebrities in weird situations…It’s the best example one can give of how a picture is worth a thousand words. The best part? You can flood Facebook newsfeeds with pictures of stuff your friends probably won’t find even the slightest bit interesting.

Playing video games.

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The culprit responsible for the downfall of even the most devoted college students—video games! From PC to PS3, plenty of people have found themselves completely obsessed with some sort of digital distraction in one form or another, and no judgment on the fact that you may have spent your entire weekend playing Grand Theft Auto V or Call of Duty.

 Sleeping.

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What do we want? SLEEP! When do we want it?! Whenever we can get it! I won’t lie, next to Netflix this may be one of my favorite activities to engage in. It’s completely free, good for you and requires absolutely no effort. I just wouldn’t suggest napping during lecture (usually doesn’t end well).

All right, so we’ve covered the basics of Procrastination 101, but what now? If nothing else, hopefully you’ve found this to be a pretty helpful reflection on just how normal it is for you to find yourself easily distracted. Plenty of us have to fight the temptation to put off assignments or studying until later and it’s not unheard of to lose the battle and give in. However, it’s important to know that if you are falling behind in your classes or find yourself earning bad grades despite your best efforts there is plenty of help to get you back on track.

The Younkin Success Center, conveniently located on Neil Avenue next to Bruegger’s Bagels and across from Hamilton Hall, is a great resource for those of us who need a little academic boost. They offer free tutoring five days a week, a Learning Center dedicated to helping students develop helpful and effective strategies related to studying, note taking and exams, Career Counseling, and Wellness Services.

No one ever said college would be easy, but you should never feel as though it’s impossible to succeed. With the right tools, and a positive attitude you can make these years some of the best of your life all you need is to let your motivation defeat your procrastination.