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最高榮譽畢業生的學習小貼士 | Study Tips from a Summa Cum Laude Graduate

Back-to-school drama, as I like to call it, presents various temptations. Coursework is not as heavy just yet (as undergraduate institutions typically do a “syllabus week” where you can shop/add/drop courses), while some of your favorite people whom you haven’t seen all summer may be lining up for meal plans and other outing invitations. Work-life balance is important: don’t sacrifice social events or sleep. The good news is that effective time management helps tremendously, from the very beginning.

 

I increasingly appreciate the value of “shopping” for classes, where you go to all the classes you are interested in taking this semester, read through each course syllabus very carefully for all the classes you are shopping for, take to the professors if necessary to figure out how much you want to stay in that course, and do the homework for each class before reaching a final decision.

 

Once you have determined your finalized course schedule, a simple piece of advice I have for you is to map out a template of your weekly schedule: that is, add any part-time job shifts and extracurricular activity meetings you will routinely expect, while maintaining a reasonable degree of flexibility. It is particularly important in my view to also map out all the office hours professors offer—some will overlap with others, or class sessions, so I typically write out a personalized office hours schedule with all possible one-on-one sessions I could go to. If nothing works out for a certain class, I usually email my professor to see if an alternative time outside of office hours may be possible to set up, such as right before or after our regular class meeting times. 

 

Also especially important in this planing stage is to map out all key assignments (papers, presentations, midterms and finals), so that you could plan ahead for non-academic events. You need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with each course syllabus. Come up with a list of logistical questions in terms of the course structure, content, assignments, and other expectations. Schedule an appointment with the professor at the very start. Ask clarifying questions earlier rather than later.

 

Throughout the semester, I highly recommend starting each assignment as early as possible to allow time for you to polish your work and potentially talk to your professors before work is due. Keep forward planning for schoolwork, extracurricular commitments, and of course, some fun time for yourself. Don’t wait till midterms to start revisiting content, but instead make sure you understand all the materials during class. It helps so much to put in minimal time turning back the pages of your notes, coming up with questions for office hours, and reviewing some key concepts with a study buddy, than to freak out about things during the exam season.

 

After key assessments, take some time to seriously think about what you did well and what you did’t do as well on. Even if you got an A (or an A+) on something, that doesn’t always mean that your response is absolutely perfect. I’d still recommend rereading what you wrote with the professor’s comments in mind.

 

At the end of each term, I typically write a little semester reflections for myself at the very last day of finals week. These are not necessarily solely academic, but can also include exciting overviews of the things you’ve been most proud of beyond the classrooms, how you think you’ve grown, some of the moments you’ve most cherished that you’ve shared with those you love, etc.

 

Of course, everyone studies differently and these are just some reflections based on my personal experience.

 

Best of luck with the new term!

 

 

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