Finals Studying Tips

After planning this blog post, I realized some schools have already begun their finals. For those of you that have not started suffering through finals week yet, here are a few types to help you survive.

Prioritize Classes
Although all of your college professors probably think their class is the most influential one you will ever take, you know which ones are more important to you. You also know which ones you need to spend more time studying for in order to do well. List out your classes, check your grades, and see which ones need more dedication before finals.

Create a Study Schedule
Don't just make a to-do list, make a plan of when you are going to accomplish these tasks. Set small goals, such as going over certain chapters or creating a study guide, and take it all one thing at a time. It seriously helps me to cross things off a list, and see what I have accomplished. Little things are needed to keep you motivated throughout the week.

Find your Space
Not everyone can be productive in the same places. If you like studying in your dorm, then do so. If you are going to the library, get there early to secure a table to do your work at. Personally, I like to reserve study rooms at the library when possible. When preparing for a library trip, pack everything you need so there isn't an excuse not to get work done once you're there.

Take Breaks
Your brain simply cannot spend six hours looking at the same subject. You're not going to remember the information and you're going to end up exhausted. I'm sure this has been scientifically proven. I've found myself to be the most productive if I spend 45 minutes working and 15 minutes checking social media or blog things every hour. It's also important to find time to leave the library and do something else to avoid burning out early in the week.

Go over old Tests
If your final is comprehensive, look at what you were tested on previously. Take note of what things you struggled with and go over those concepts again. It's not uncommon for professors to repeat questions from exams on the final. 

Condense your Notes
Some professors are generous enough to provide a study guide for their final exam. For my classes that did so, I've gone through my notes and highlighted or typed up information on the concepts in the study guide. Studying is important, but it is even more important that you study the right information. 

Take Care of Yourself
Always have water available when you are going to study for an extended period of time. Your GPA matters, but your personal health should be your first priority. Take power naps and try to get a full night's sleep. You'll be more functional during the day if you do. Pack healthy study snacks and treat yourself every now and then. 

Finals week is rough, but you can definitely get through it if you have a plan. Check out your university's resources for stress relief. We have dogs in the library once during the week and free massages at the health center. These types of things can keep you from sitting in your dorm crying over a bag popcorn, not that I've ever done that... 
Good luck on your finals!

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Choosing the Right College

Choosing a college is a monumental decision. This generally isn't a choice you can make overnight, but you could also step foot onto a college campus and immediately know that it is your new home. Where you attend university, and what you do while you are there, essentially sets the rest of your life in motion. When it comes time to make that decision, there are a few criteria you should consider. 

How far do you want to be from home? I chose a school that is close enough to drive home in one day but far away enough that I am not tempted to do so every weekend. Do you want to attend college in a small town or big city? I couldn't imagine going to school in a city, but I had to make sure there was at least a Target in town.

There are universities in the United States with anywhere between 100 and 60,000 students. Take the undergrad population into consideration, and also the size of the physical campus. How long will it take you to walk across campus? 

Tuition & Scholarships
This is generally where the State vs. Private school question comes into debate. State schools tend to be less expensive, especially within your own state. However, you may also be able to earn scholarships to cancel out the difference. When comparing costs, look at automatic scholarships that state schools offer as well.

What resources are available on campus? If you work out regularly, check out their recreation center. Take a look inside the library and make sure there are plenty of places to study. If you know your major, research the building that your classes will be in.

Probably the most important thing in a college search is ensuring that your major is available. I would also recommend finding 3-5 other possible majors at each university. Most people change their major several times during college, and you should make sure you'll have other options that interest you.

Will you be living on campus your first year? What style are the dorms? How expensive is it? Do your research on the residence halls and be sure to visit a few if and when you tour the university. What are the dining halls like? Most schools put out better food on big visiting days, so keep in mind that the food probably won't always be as great as it seems. 

While academics is your main focus in college, make sure you can have a well-rounded experience. If you are planning on joining Greek life, do some research on their Fraternity & Sorority Life (just don't pay attention to any stereotypes or gossip). Look for organizations similar to your high school involvement that you could join.

This may not be a priority to everyone, but it's always interesting to see which sport teams excel at potential colleges. If you want to tailgate and go to football games, look into their athletic atmosphere. This can be a huge part of the college experience. 

When you're taking all of these things into consideration, weigh the pros and cons of each school. Decide how important each characteristic is to you. I am so happy to say that I have never considered transferring colleges, but it does happen and that's okay. If the school you chose is right for you as a freshman, that doesn't mean that it will necessarily still be right for you when you reach sophomore or junior year. This is especially true if you go into college with an undeclared major or change your major. So, at the end of the day, know that where you choose to go to school is not a decision set in stone! 

Check out all my other college-related blog posts here! Let me know what you want to see by leaving a comment.

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