Back To School Study Tips: 9 Reddit Hacks To Shake Loose Your Classroom Rust
Before you know it, August will be upon us, and once again that means back to school time. It can be difficult shaking off the classroom rust in the first part of the school year, especially if you slept till 3 p.m. every day, spent hour after hour Redditing, and went out of your way to think as little as possible.
(Speaking from experience here.)
That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the best back to school advice we’ve seen from the Reddit community along with some commentary on each. At the end, don’t forget to share your back to school study tips in the comments section.
1. Treat school like a job.
2. Work ahead.
One commenter shared this piece of college back to school advice from his father: “Treat it like a job. Hit the books Monday through Friday 9-5. Work in the library, not your room or apartment. Don’t miss a class. Work ahead during that 40 hours.”
The original commenter said he “followed his advice to the letter” and “never had to pull an all-nighter.”
“I didn’t have to cram for exams. I never got very stressed, despite attending a competitive school and completing a difficult major,” the commenter added.
While it may not always be feasible to work the job “9-5” as the commenter’s father suggested, that’s really not the point, which is to “show up” for your education and work like you would if you were constantly in the boss’s field of vision. Also, realize it’s a time commitment you’re working towards, so that means no “cutting out early.” As the father said, if you hit your goals and there is still time left on the clock, “work ahead.”
3. Pay attention in class.
4. Use time between classes to study.
Another poster fed up with his classmates’ inattentiveness said that the best advice he’d received was to go to class and pay attention. “I utilized my time between classes,” she noted, adding, “those lost minutes add up.”
“At least for me, I would have 1-2 hours [sic] breaks between classes. There was no reason to leave campus, I went to the library or computer lab and worked on assignments.”
The commenter continued: “Did I mention I paid attention in class? I don’t think I can emphasize that enough. So many of my classmates tweeted and facebooked and texted (even in grad school!) and I paid attention. Saved me hours of studying later.”
Making the most of your productivity time is something you have to learn how to do, and with an increasing number of distractions out there, and an ever competitive world, you can’t afford to let those extra minutes fall by the wayside.
As another Redditor put it, “Yes, this is exactly what I did. I used the time between classes to get school work done. I took that into account when I was scheduling my classes each semester as well. I worked mostly early mornings, late nights, and weekends so I could use the bulk of my weekdays going to class and doing school work.”
5. Stop worrying about how “easy” it is for your classmates.
As one university professor put it, “Intelligence barely matters.”
“The only thing that makes any real significant difference is effort,” the professor said. “Lots of people — myself included — coasted through high school and college on the bare minimum, getting by on natural ability more or less alone. In university though, that really doesn’t count for much. If you’re doing an arts degree, say, where grades are awarded for essay-writing (coverage, research, argument, etc.), unless you’ve put the work in — read the books, attended the lectures and seminars and everything else — your work is going to be sub-standard.”
The professor goes on to say that he has “close contact with my students, and it’s pretty easy to see who’s naturally intelligent, and who has to work hard to get there themselves. The difference is — when it comes to marking the essays, it’s always the ‘intelligent’ people that get the mediocre grades. It’s always a shock for them, and they’re always the toughest group of people to make work harder.”
“When a job interfered with my school, I got a different one.”
Oh sure, it may be difficult to equate school with work judging from your present set of circumstances. After all, either you or Mom and Dad are paying teachers, who command all your time, drop a boatload of work on you with seemingly unreasonable deadlines, and then act like a jerk if you don’t hand something in on time, right?
When someone comes along and actually hands you a paycheck for your time, even if it’s just $8.50 an hour, it can be really hard to say no to that and it becomes easier to prioritize their needs above those of your education.
But don’t do it. College degrees still have value, and as hard as the job market has been the last five years, those values still exceed that of a retail job. If your work is trying to take that away from you, then find one that will work with your schedule. NASA will be a lot more impressed that you have a master’s degree in engineering than they will be that you were a shift manager at Taco Bell or that you can fold ten towels a minute.
7. Kill two birds with one stone. (Not literally.)
“Get a security guard job. I did. I got paid to study.”
Some jobs like the one the Redditor above was referring to are no pressure whatsoever. I had a security guard job in high school, which was probably too young because A. You can get through high school on natural ability if you’ve got it, and B. I used my time more for naps and for accidentally blowing up Dr. Pepper cans in the freezer after I would steal warm ones from the garage vending machine and then forget about them while in the midst of dreaming.
(Yes, I was a jerk, but so are many high school students.)
I tell you this to highlight the differences in mindset, and how it’s important to realize where you are and where you need to be when more is expected from you.
Getting a job that allows you ample free time for studying may not be the easiest thing to do without a few connections but it is certainly worth the effort provided that you know what to do with the extra time once you’ve got it. If you can land a low impact job with a reasonable (or non-present) boss, then make sure you bring the textbooks for that downtime. That way you’ll have a lot more freedom when you’re “off the clock.” Just don’t forget about the DP can in the freezer.
8. Do group study.
This piece of advice turned up frequently on Reddit, and it’s easy to understand why, particularly for those of you taking on tough majors or pursuing your education into grad school and beyond.
This was a difficult one for yours truly. Few understand introversion like me. I make my living behind a computer screen and sometimes can go two or three days without speaking to anyone outside my wife.
I prefer it that way, and always cringed in high school or college when I had to have a partner on a project. But I did it anyway, and it was really the best thing for me.
What made it work in spite of it being so obviously against my nature?
Well, as I dealt further into my major, it became easier to connect with classmates and get the most out of the groupthink environment. When you’re having to read more than 100 pages of text per day, keep homework up to date, and balance a full-time class schedule with a full-time work life, you become somewhat reliant on the knowledge of others.
It doesn’t get you off the hook for doing assignments and assigned reading, but it does help you cover things you may have missed rather quickly. By congregating with classmates, who are working for the same goal, you can all feed off each others’ ideas and more effectively prepare for exams and life in general.
9. Use the web more effectively.
This piece of advice doesn’t so much come from Reddit as much as it’s inspired by it.
You’re probably already using the Internet for most of your research (as in, whatever you can get away with), but are you using it as effectively as you could be?
That’s a question worth considering before just giving an answer.
Until recently, I used Reddit as a passing source until I found out what it was truly capable of through search and involvement. You can type in a category that may not immediately come up on the Front Page and instantly be connected to deep, engrossing conversations that teach you a lot about any given topic.
While your professor or teacher may not allow Reddit as a cite-able source, they probably won’t mind — and don’t even have to know — if you’re putting the site to use in culling useful information, which can then be traced to a viable source that is cite-able.
Likewise, services like Zite can learn your interests and keep you constantly updated with fresh and interesting content in your field of study. Just do a basic keyword search for something like “Literature,” and Zite will pull articles from all across the web into that folder.
As you continue to use Zite, its algorithms will keep your Front Page updated with a conglomeration of all the categories you search, like, and read the most. (Don’t worry about the mix of categories, you can pull articles for an individual topic as well without the full integration.)
Zite is available for Android and iOS with the promise of a web version to come.
There is a lot of noise out there on the web, and it helps to use tools like Reddit, Zite, or whatever social media platform you’re comfortable with to aid in your studies. But don’t forget a good old Google search either. That’s still quite effective because it searches the entire web for more highly specific queries and produces the top results as well as alternate suggestions for what people are searching related to any given topic.
We live in the Golden Age of Information. Students have more challenges than they ever have before, but they also have more opportunity for learning than previous generations, and that always produces a marketable, productive person later in life. It’s okay if you’re still in summer mode and aren’t ready to think about heading back to class, but just remember that it will be here soon, and these back to school study tips can help accelerate classroom rust. Good luck, and make the most of this next month!
[Image via LHSWildcats.org]