The definition of motivation is a general desire or willingness to do something. Motivation is very important when it comes to school because, without it, we would have no reason to complete our assignments. Motivation can come from both intrinsic and extrinsic sources (Slide 5). Examples of extrinsic sources in regards to college would be a diploma or a job after graduation. An example of an intrinsic source would be the desire to learn new things. A useful piece of information I learned in this module is the importance of your environment as a motivator. I never knew how important my environment (physical, social, online) could be in controlling my motivation. Here are a few tips that I learned that can help you have a successful study environment:
- Create a quiet study environment. Although some students think they can watch TV or listen to conversations in the background, it often leads to them focusing more on these things rather than their school work. If music is important to you, find a good concentration or study playlist to listen to while you study (Slide 7-8).
- Limit your distractions. If you know your roommate will be in your dorm room with a bunch of friends, go to the library or a quieter study room. Turn your phone on do not disturb as well; this will reduce your desire to check it constantly.
- Eliminate all online distractions. Closeout your tabs on your computer that do not apply directly to the assignment you are working on. Also, make sure your messages and email are on do not disturb (Slide 10).
Although your study environment is not the only thing that controls your motivation, it is a big contribution. If you can focus on the tips I mentioned above, then you will be more likely in staying motivated to get your assignments done. Another great way to increase your motivation is to allow yourself to take breaks while studying. A lot of people think they need to study for 12 straight hours to be successful on an exam, but that is not the case. It is the exact opposite. It is important to plan intentional breaks to reduce your stress and keep your motivation up. Overall, motivation is so important in being successful in school so these tips will be very useful in increasing your motivation.
Writing papers has always been difficult for me. In high school, all of my English classes required me to write multiple papers, and I was determined to go into college with all my English credits complete so I never had to write another paper again. Although I was successful in completing those English credits, I still have had to write multiple papers throughout my college career. I wish I would have had access to the tips in this module when I started college freshman year, but I did not. Therefore my goal is to share the tips I learned in this module with you so you can be successful in writing papers in college. It is important to acknowledge that writing in high school and college is very different. Papers in college are a lot more inquiry-driven (Slide 4). Here are some useful tips I learned this week that I wish I would’ve known going into college (“Writing an Academic Paper”):
- Create a structured schedule to write your paper. Do not just sit down and expect yourself to crank out a five-page paper in a matter of hours. You need to have a set of steps to follow like: conduct research, take notes, organize information, write the first draft and proofread.
- Outline your information. Decide what each paragraph is going to be about and what information will go in each paragraph. This will make writing so much easier because you will already have ideas together.
- Revise your paper after letting it sit for a couple of days. This will allow you to approach it with a fresh set of eyes. Also, ask someone to peer review it if possible (many classes already have this structured in the makeup of assignments).
Overall, writing papers has always been my least favorite thing to do, but I think these tips would have limited the amount of stress and pressure I experienced with writing papers in the past. It is so important to have a good idea of how you want the paper to be structured because this will limit how overwhelmed you feel when you sit down to write the paper.
It is easy to assume when going into college that your old study habits from high school will work just as well. Unfortunately, that is not the case, the students who are used to getting all A’s with only studying for a couple of hours the night before the test are typically the students who struggle the most when they enter college. This was the case for me. I thought I could get away with only studying one day/night before an exam and still get a good grade, but I quickly realized I could not. The material in college is a lot more rigorous no matter what you are majoring in. My advice to students who are incoming freshman is to not underestimate the demands college courses will bring. Here are some tips that will allow you to get off on the right foot (Slides 4 and 5):
- Although some professors do not require you to attend class, my recommendation is to attend as much as you can. Act like class attendance is mandatory. This will ensure you do not miss any important announcements or due dates.
- The live lectures are not always all-encompassing of the material on the exam. It is important to read the materials in the provided book as well.
- Decide on a note-making method early on so you can continue to use this method and organize your notes.
- Make sure you keep up with due dates and catch yourself up if you miss work. Unlike high school, professors will not hound you to turn in missed work so you will only hurt yourself in the long run.
Thankfully I learned the importance of these tips after taking only a couple of exams. I realized that I needed to study for a lot of my exams at least a week in advance and create a structured study plan. I also learned the importance of taking detailed notes that I could use in my studies. I hope these tips are helpful for anyone who is struggling in their college courses!
I personally have struggled with the transition to online quizzes, online reading assignments, online exams, etc. Some of my key strategies when taking quizzes and exams have been taken away from me like crossing off the answers I don’t think are right or highlighting and underlining words in a question. Although it is possible to do some of these things on certain online testing platforms, a lot of the platforms do not have such advancements yet and it has proven to be a difficult transition for me. Luckily, online reading assignments do allow me to continue using similar techniques. We learned this week that we should interact with online readings just as we would readings from a textbook (Slide 6). I like to add the online pdf to Notability or print it out so I can continue to use my strategies. Some strategies that may prove useful include:
- Highlighting or underlining key information.
- Rereading a paragraph or set of sentences and ask yourself if you really understand what it is saying.
- Creating mnemonic devices to remember certain information.
- Taking notes on the side of the reading to help reinforce key concepts.
These are just a few of my suggested strategies. I think as technology continues to become more advanced there will be platforms created that allow us to highlight/underline/write(type) directly on these readings. Notability is a great resource to use because it allows you to import these readings into the app and take notes on them. I use it for all of my classes, and I have found it to be really helpful in my studying.
A useful tip I learned in this module was the importance of creating a calendar to manage your time. Although this may seem simple a lot of people still don’t do it. A calendar helps you visualize your commitments in a more organized way (Slide 13). Oftentimes all the due dates for your assignments are in your head, but it is difficult to manage your time when they are all jumbled up there and not displayed in an easy-to-read format. Here are some tips I would recommend when you decide to make a calendar:
- Buy a planner or large calendar that has a monthly as well as daily breakdown so you can include due dates on the monthly breakdown and smaller to-do lists on the daily breakdown.
- Use different colors (markers, colored pencils, pens) to represent different activities or subjects. This will help you separate your assignments.
- Block off time in your calendar for free time. Although your calendar is important for your success in school or your job, it is also important to live a balanced lifestyle so include some time to relax.
These tips should help you be more successful in managing your time. It is important to realize that the calendar will not work perfectly every time, but it certainly is a better base than keeping everything up in your head. This past week I have taken my own advice and started writing a to-do list each day. Although every day has not been perfect, I feel like I have been able to get my assignments done more efficiently. Most of my assignments are due on Sunday which normally results in my Sundays being super chaotic, but this week I barely have anything left to do on Sunday. It is a good feeling to know that I can have a day to relax. I hope these tips help you manage your time better between all your different activities.
A useful tip I learned from this module is how to format an email to a professor or TA. Emailing can be difficult for students who are so accustomed to texting all the time where slang is considered socially acceptable. I probably review an email 10 times before I actually hit send to ensure I do not have any grammar or spelling issues. In reality, though, everyone makes mistakes there have been plenty of instances where a professor or TA has emailed me back with a few spelling or grammar errors, but I still was able to understand the message which was the most important part. Here are some components that you should always include in an email to your professor or TA (Slide 8 in Module 2 Lesson):
- Detailed subject line (most professors include in the syllabus exactly how they want this part to be formatted)
- Formal greeting (make sure to properly address your professor by the right name)
- The context for the email (include your name, what class you are in and why you are writing this email)
- Closing (include your full name)
It is also important to note nothing frustrates a professor more than when you ask a question that is clearly addressed in the syllabus. My advice is to check the syllabus two-three times very thoroughly and ask a friend or two in the class before you send the email. If you are unable to locate the answer you need after trying these things, email your professor or TA. Remember an email could be your first interaction with your professor or even employer (yes, these tips apply to jobs too) so make sure you are respectful. These tips should help you make a great first impression.