8 Secrets To Becoming More Successful In College

“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit. And many never aim at all.” – Les Brown.

It’s Thursday morning and you’re debating with your friends whether to stay in tonight and finish your assignment that’s worth 20% or start studying for your test which is, of course, tomorrow; or alternatively, hit the sesh and go dance those little cotton socks off. Forget all your worries: “Be grand!” you think. So they say. Besides, drunk you seems to have done a fair enough job on that Business assignment the previous time. (Source on this one: my friends.)

I’m not going to lie, I don’t drink for the simple reason that I just cannot stand the taste of it. But I do have an obsession with going out like every other college student does. I love the predrinks; the aspect of encountering and getting to know new people – the bopping about in the dirty student accommodation kitchen on the hunt for any object that will serve as a cup to drink water from. I love the dancing in a club to all the shitty music that I cannot name a single lyric to because none of it is from the 80’s or 90’s, dancing until I sweat so much it’s questionable whether someone just threw an entire drink over me. I love it all.

However, what I’ve come to learn about college is the balance; that sickening balance you’ll have heard your parents or older people chit chat about when you were half listening, flicking through your phone. As a stubborn person, I only appreciated this when I discovered it for myself and learned how I actually could juggle going out and keeping up with college work — but not just keeping up, cos let’s be honest lads, who the hell wants a 2:1 grade when you can earn a 1:1 degree.

And here’s how.

I’ve listed 8 easy-to-do things that anyone can achieve. These will serve as your direct flight to productivity and will ensure that you achieve everything the college ride has to offer you:

1) Write a list – I find this is best done at night-time just before I hit the hay. The reason for this is that as you write down the list of things you wish to accomplish the following day, those things go into your head. This is great for two reasons: 1) you don’t spend half the night thinking about what you have to do tomorrow or worrying about what you might forget and 2) you can wake up the next day with a plan, with a purpose. You have a reason to wake up — an agenda. Say au revoir to ‘I have nothing to wake up early for’ days. If it is the weekend or any day when you don’t have lectures in the morning, you can even write the times down at which you will start and finish these things on your to-do list.

For example:

16th Apr/Sat 2016 8:00 – wake up, have brekkie, get gym clothes on and style hair 9:00 – 9: 40 Admin Assignment (develop plan some more and read Moodle notes) 9:45 – 10:25 Study Constitutional notes wk.6 10:30 – 11:20 Gym 11:30 – 11:45 Grab a quick bite to eat and make protein shake 11:45 – 12: 25 Read over Hearsay notes and finish the rest of wk.5 12:30 Send off CV’s to a few shops/restaurants L U N C H

N.B Don’t study for block hours. Study in bursts of 30 to 45 mins depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. This ensures that you get a break and don’t get fed up quickly. Also study two or three topics over the space of three hours so you feel like you’ve accomplished a few things rather than spending an hour and a half on one. Magically, once you get started on a topic and your selected time is up, you may even find yourself itching to learn the rest of it.

Another tip: I always write the date and day at the top of my study sheet as it fully focuses me on the day ahead – putting me into the present moment. Plus, it sometimes reminds me of upcoming deadlines when I actually know the date for once.

Tip 2.0: Always, always, always reward yourself with the absolute thrill of getting to highlight or put a line through an item you have accomplished on your list. Seeing this happen is something everyone enjoys. 2) Wake up early – don’t just wake up on a whim. Wake up purposely. Set an alarm. If you have accomplished things before 12 o’clock, you will automatically feel better in yourself and hey, you still have the rest of the day to do so much more. Also, your brain is obviously fresher and more alert in the morning so your work will be done at a better quality; and in relation to studying, revising in the morning and then reviewing it at night makes sure the information actually goes into your brain as you are reinforcing it in your long term memory. This is opposed to the short term memory which is where it goes if you learn or read over something just once. Unless, of course, you are lucky to have the memory of Mike Ross. (I’m still praying for this one.)

3) So you’ve actually gotten out of bed at 8:40 and made that 9am lecture, let’s make it worthwhile. I find using a laptop is best for note taking as I can type faster than I can write, but each to their own and if it’s a mathsey module then writing may be the best option. So scriobh down the topic that’s about to be discussed to focus you on what’s about to go down (the hard part is done, you’re actually in the lecture.) Next, instead of trying to copy down exactly what the lecturer has written on the power point, only managing to write down half of it as they annoyingly scurry onto the next slide – leaving you forever wondering what ‘organisational behaviour is…’ – just take down what the lecturer is saying. Even if you have no idea what the hell the they are going on about, you will soon discover and pick out a few things that you have understood as you jot things down.

Listen intently. Put the phone on silent mode in the mála. Yes, this applies to you too, mister down the back. No need for that craic just now. Take down the terms and examples the lecturer is giving when explaining a concept or principle. This method is particularly great as you’ll find you will remember this information when you’re studying and this in turn will likely trigger in your brain once again in the exam as you’ve been exposed to the info more than once. Wink wink nudge nudge. Furthermore, sometimes the notes that will be put online can be hard to understand and it would conveniently appear that the beginning of the sentence is missing, prolonging the studying. This is where jotting down wee notes of the layman terms the lecturer uses is ideal, especially in a module you find difficult.

4) Revise notes after the lecture as soon as you can. The knowledge is fresh in your head so it will be easy enough on the aul noggin. Grab the recommended textbook the lecturer has suggested or outlined on Moodle. You’ll be outraged to find how all these principles you’ve been Googling are clearly and simply explained in the book. Sometimes the book will be laid out quite similar to how the lecture was taught, which again makes it easier for studying. Use this in conjunction with the notes from Moodle, and pay attention to these ones in particular as this is what the lecturer will be looking for in the exam. So read Moodle notes first. See what info they want you to know. Then go read up on it and expand your knowledge on that particular area. Simples.

5) Start assignments as soon as you receive them. Begin by reading the question(s), plan how you might answer it or what books you may need to grab outta the library before they disappear due to high demand. (Either never to be returned or with a student paying a hefty fine of 35 smackers … not that I’d know …)

6) Exercise — be it going to the gym, on a walk, GAA training or yoga. It takes your mind totally off your work which is what your brain needs in order to take a rest and to re-energise. You are focused solely on what is at hand (Trying not to fall off the treadmill or drop the feckin barbell on that overhead lunge.)

7) Draw up summary sheets. These are simply A4 pages with the most important bits of information that you need to remember. If you are doing subjects such as Law or Business for example, you may need more than one page, but try keep the pages to a minimum for your own benefit when reading. Draw these up each week from the notes from each module and go over them each weekend to get the info into your long term memory.

8) And lastly but most certainly not least – GO OUT. Party feckin’ hard. Kiss boys, girls, both, whatever you’re into. You will enjoy your night out so much more when you know you’ve worked hard and deserve it and have no assignment due the next morning that you’ve only read the title of.

All in all, if you follow at least some of these tips you can’t go wrong. You’ll feel so much more content in yourself and LESS STRESSED which is ultimately what everyone wants in their college lives. No one wants to be around that person who is freaking out last minute about assignments due or exams the next day because they haven’t started studying yet.

Be the fun person to be around who has got their act together. People will look up to you for it and will recognise you as a leader for your calm composure and organisation. It’s only a matter of decision. A choice. The only way this will happen is if you DECIDE to make it happen.

Now go out and kick some ass.