College is an occupation. For however many years that you’re in college, it is a part or a full-time job. It’s draining, frustrating, and scary. And you can burn out very, very easily. I had a full-on breakdown during my first Bachelor’s that required hospitalization.
There are many studyblrs that focus on study tips and that share beautiful pictures of their bujos. There are so many posts out there about how to study efficiently. But there really isn’t enough spoken about how to take care of yourself during college and at any period of your academic life.
Here’s just some of what I’ve learned.
Reserve time every week for yourself, however that may be. Block it off and commit to it. Whether it’s a yoga class, an evening alone, lunch with friends, or something else. Religiously follow this! Don’t let it slip away, and guard this time jealously. Don’t feel guilty for taking this time.
Take up a hobby that’s easily portable: knitting, drawing, playing phone games, journaling, something else. Carry this around with you for downtime. I know that many people say that you should cram every second of free time with studying. No! Take time to recharge your brain by letting it rest.
Chunk your studying. Not only does this help you remember things, but it also helps you avoid stress. Study a little bit each day on each topic. Do half an hour on one class, half an hour on another, etc. This forces you to revisit each one every day instead of cramming all of your studying for one class into one day.
Honestly, I usually don’t study the night before an exam at all. Don’t even touch the books. Maybe I’ll look over the notes or do some quick outlines. What do I do? I sleep. Trust your preparation. If you’ve been studying consistently throughout the semester, you’ve done everything you can do. That’s it. By cramming, you’re more likely to panic, overload your brain, and remember less. Sleep. Let your brain condense everything and organize everything.
Be okay with cum laude. Seriously. That’s my mantra now. I got cum laude for my first Bachelor’s. At first it really bothered me – “I could have gotten summa! Why didn’t I try harder?!” – but then I realized that ten years out from my degree, absolutely no one is going to care, because I’m going to have work experience that overshadows that. Don’t destroy yourself to get a perfect GPA. Don’t have a breakdown just to get on the President’s List. Do your best, and that is all anyone can ask of you.
Everyone else is on their own life path. You are on yours. Don’t compete with other people. Compete with yourself.
Stay the hell off Pinterest! In fact, if a blog, board, etc, makes you feel envious, bad about yourself, etc, unfollow. If something is making you feel less-than rather than inspired, you don’t need it in your life. If a studyblr or a Pinterest board is making you feel like shit because you aren’t that organized, or neat, or ~*~goals~*~, it’s not contributing to your life.
Keep your room organized in a way that makes sense to you. For me, I have to have everything visible. I pretty much have no drawers/closed spaces in my room (except my desk) because if it’s not visible, it’s going to get cluttered and forgotten. My laundry bin is a plastic tote so I can throw things in there rather than the floor, and it sits literally right underneath the clothes hanging in my closet: I take something off, bam! Right into the bin. And so on. If you like things tucked away, that works for you. Make things make sense to you.
Hygiene. Wash your face, brush your teeth. If you’re struggling with something, or you feel overwhelmed, go wash your face. I keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in my backpack because if I’m totally at my limit, minty fresh teeth will perk me the hell up.
Do not be afraid to use the resources available to you!!!!!! If you’re at a university, they have, at minimum, a counseling center, a financial aid advisor, and a career center. You are paying for these!! Use them!! They are there to help YOU.
Write things out by hand. Even if you like to use the computer, or even if your handwriting sucks, writing things out longform is a proven method of remembering things better. What I do is I write things out by hand, and then type up these notes into outlines to study from. This way I’m encountering the information at least twice.
Sleep is literally the most important aspect of studying. Do not skimp on sleep. If you have to choose between staying up late cramming and going to bed, go to bed. Go to bed. Maintain as consistent of a sleep schedule as possible. Personally, I’m pretty much never awake after 11:00pm. You need sleep. It’s literally one of the most important things for you biologically after food. (Which I’m going to get to in a minute.) And you need consistent sleep. Sleep hygiene is essential for proper functioning, and you can’t simply “catch up” on sleep. If you have to set alarms to go to bed, then do it. I can’t emphasize this enough. You need at least seven hours of sleep, but nine is really ideal.
Eat! Protein, fiber, carbohydrates, all of that good stuff. Pack vegetables to munch on during breaks. Bring some fruit and yogurt. And stay hydrated. Your brain uses approximately 20% of the body’s total energy. If you’re not eating well, you simply can’t study well.
Finally – be okay with some failure. You’re going to get some bad grades. You’re going to bomb some tests. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to spend the rest of your life in a box. Do NOT panic or become terrified at the slightest failure. Unfortunately, we as a society have become allergic to failure. We don’t want to talk about the fact that sometimes people aren’t good at things, or don’t get things right on the first try. We’ve become less resilient as a whole, and many people encounter their very first D or F in college. Do not let this send you in a tailspin. Acknowledge this as a sign that you have a deficiency in one aspect of your studies, and that you need to focus harder in this area. That’s all it means. It’s not a character attack, nor is it a sign that you, personally, are a failure. Seek more help for that area and move on. Keep your head high.
And have fun in college. Not too much fun, but some 🙂