Study Smarter (Not Harder, Not Longer)

It can be discouraging when you feel like you are not doing well in your classes–the exams come back and they are not what you were expecting–to the point where you may even begin to resent them. New students in their first semester of college tend to have a lower GPA than in their second semester (it is rare for students to earn a 4.0 in college), and it’s not surprising. In addition to trying to master course content, you’re also trying to navigate a new environment, make new friends, and manage your time. Know that it is okay to not do super well on your first couple exams; you are so much more than whatever your grades might try to tell you that you are. What is important is that you start to plan how you can improve your study habits so that for the next exam, you feel ready and confident. Then, when you get that exam back, you are content with your grade knowing that you studied as effectively as possible.

So, here are a few tips to improve the way you study, especially if you are anything like freshman Austin and are thinking,

Wow, I have no idea how I could have studied more. I spent so much time preparing. I guess I am just not smart enough.

Thankfully, I eventually learned that it is not about how much time you spend studying but how effectively you use that time.

Focus, Rest, Repeat

Spending hours upon hours trying to comprehend the large quantities of information–while unintentionally getting side-tracked by scrolling through the latest Twitter drama–is probably not the best way to go about studying. I find it helpful to have distraction-free, focused time on one subject for an hour, then take a 5 to 15 minute break, letting your mind chill on it for a few. Maybe take that break time to go on a walk, answer a few texts, meditate, listen to music, or my personal favorite, consume healthy snacks. I find it helpful to change up the subjects, every hour or so that I don’t get bored with the same material.

Spend time with your professors

You have heard it before: “Go to Office Hours!” That’s true…but it is not as easy as they make it sound, right? It can be intimidating going to see your professor, especially if it is a large class. They are not as scary as they seem; they genuinely care about you as a person and as a student, and they want you to succeed in their class. It can be helpful to have questions prepared before you go, especially if you are worried about making conversation with them. At Ohio State, we have many professors with expertise in a wide variety of academia. Don’t be afraid to seek them out even just to learn more about their journey or what they are passionate about in life. Your professors can be your mentors, even if they do not work in your major’s department.

Study with friends!

It can be helpful to study with other people for classes that require memorization strategies. If you can explain things to others, it helps solidify the information in your brain as opposed to reviewing the same notes over and over again on your own. You can test and help each other understand material that clicks for you but not for someone else (or vise versa).

Catch many Z’s

As hard as it may seem, prioritize sleep! Getting rest helps our brains store the information we are trying to learn through out each day. Shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and avoid all-nighters as an effective way of studying for an upcoming exam…because they are not effective. Staying active can also help keep the stress levels down, even throughout the time when exams are looming. Physical activity doesn’t have to happen in the gym; it can be going for a walk or run, playing a sport like ultimate Frisbee or basketball, or doing pull ups on your lofted bed (be careful).

Try a few of these tips, and hopefully you will feel more confident heading into your exam, more confident heading out, and make the most of your experience at Ohio State. For more tips for success, check out the Dennis Learning Center for techniques on note taking, battling procrastination, and test taking.



20 Embarrassing Things You May Do In Your First Year (And Why It’s Okay)

Being a new student at Ohio State is truly a unique experience. There are dining halls to explore, special lingo to learn, class buildings to memorize and daily routines to configure. It’s inevitable that during this transition into college life you are going to do some things that will make you wish you hadn’t stepped on campus. I’m here to tell you’re not alone, and that every year, first-year students make a few “rookie” mistakes–I was in your shoes a year ago; I sympathize. Next fall, you can laugh about them, learn from them and (hopefully) avoid them in the future. Now, here is a list of some of the classic Ohio State mistakes and (potentially) embarrassing moments you may encounter:

  1. Pull out your map on the way to class the first week….or two.
  2. Wait until winter to learn the bus system (You may regret it come November).
  3. Lock your keys in your room three times in the first month. At least one of these times will be after a shower, and you will have to go to the front desk in a bathrobe.
  4. Refer to the Oval as “the hall.”
  5. Call your professor “teacher.”
  6. Forget your bath towel in your room (HINT: toilet paper will not work).
  7. Try to sneakily watch a video in lecture, failing to realize your computer volume is still on high.
  8. Run out of ways to use your name and graduation year to make new passwords for your Buckeye Link account, and resort to pet names and silly childhood nicknames.
  9. Convince yourself you have found “The One” in September. Break up in October.
  10. Burn half of your phone’s memory recording every single TBDBITL ramp entrance and Script Ohio performance.
  11. Everything on your holiday wish list WILL have the Ohio State logo on it.
  12. Walk away from a cardio machine because you secretly couldn’t figure out how to use it.
  13. Forget to press your floor in the elevator and/or walk the stairs to the wrong floor.
  14. Drop your “unmentionables” on the floor while doing laundry.
  15. Think it’s necessarily to pull the cord on the CABS bus (HINT: it’s not).
  16. Walk into the completely wrong building for class. Bonus points if you actually sit in the completely wrong lecture.
  17. Get General Tso’s chicken from Marketplace…twice in one day.
  18. Sprint across campus once you realize that your classes in Hagerty Hall and Hitchcock Hall aren’t conducive to a leisurely campus stroll within the 15 minute class change period.
  19. Tackle a stack of three food containers, a soft drink, and your room key on your way home from the Union Market. Spoiler alert: You’ll likely spill something at least once.
  20. Wear your lanyard around campus 24/7. Don’t worry: this stage will pass.

We have all been new to Ohio State at some point in time, so know (and believe) that we’ve all experienced our fair share of growing pains as we make this new environment our home. We’re eager to help guide you along the way!