Life as a college student in 2020 wasn’t easy, but we’ve finally made it to 2021 and can take a breath of relief. Or can we? My second semester is fast approaching and there is much to do to feel prepped and ready for another round of classes. Here’s what I do to prep for the long nights of reviewing that await me!
I’ll be taking two classes that are particularly difficult and hope that focusing on school more with one less job will make things a little easier. I am so lucky to be working and learning from home as it is safest for my family but understand how it changes the process of learning for me. School life is very different from what many of us imagined but we’re working through it!
Prepping for Biology
I’ll need a few science credits to fulfill my degree program and this course was scheduled early on since I took some college classes in high school. I am taking classes that would typically come later in my schedule and biology is one of those!
I’ve gotten myself a gridded notebook to help with diagrams and charts as well as neat notes and plan to use one for biology next semester. I have taken high school biology and expect to use another notebook as a lab journal too! For now, I just want to make sure I’ll have a good notebook setup for actual notes. These are super important as I like rereading things and looking back at old information when the class starts to pick up and I need to study for exams.
I would recommend waiting until the class begins to label anything or set much up, as science professors can be particular about how they want your research journal to be set up. I picked graphing notebooks as they provide me with two-sized graphs and can be used for both diagrams and just writing. I also enjoy the ease of drawing diagrams and tables/charts with graph paper notebooks.
Prepping for Mathematics
I am enrolled in a calculus course this semester and I am not looking forward to it as much as my others. I am not a math genius and never will be, but I try to understand the materials given to me. Unfortunately, this class didn’t work out in my schedule earlier in 2020 and I pushed it to this semester, hoping to give myself more time to work. I look forward to seeing how well I can do in this course since I’ve taken a bit of pre-calculus in high school.
I have taken statistics online during my dual enrollment courses and have a few pieces of advice for people taking online math classes:
Always read ahead! You will want to read the pages of that chapter before you start doing any problems, or work through problems as new information is introduced. I would always read the pages the weekend before the work was assigned so I could spend the week referring back to notes!
Give yourself more than enough time to work out problems! I would sometimes underestimate how much time it would take me to finish a project or homework assignment. I found myself rushing toward the end and would not do well on the last few problems, even if it was using the same information as the first problems. It is also important to give time for tests. If you are taking your test from home with the use of Zoom or Microsoft Teams, give yourself plenty of time to set up your space and feel well prepared!
Use a dry erase board to work through long problems before finishing notes! Many math professors will provide notes with problems throughout. This allows you to apply the new information as it is given, not just all at once with one final application. I prefer this type of note-taking, but we all make mistakes! I like working out tough problems or new information on a dry erase board before writing final notes neatly!
Tips for Taking an Eight AM
I found myself between a rock and a hard place while scheduling for the second semester. For my biology course, I had to choose between taking an eight a.m. class or taking one around noon that was about half as long. A class that is shorter will move at a much quicker pace and with science and math not being my strongest topics, I chose the early course.
You should have heard the responses I got from my friends. I know what kind of environment I will learn best in, and a rushed one is not best for me this semester. I decided that taking an early course will be doable and in the long run, I’ll have a better chance of succeeding.
- Hydrate! Keep water or tea nearby while getting ready and bring one with you if you are taking courses in person!
- Get enough sleep! Make sure you are getting enough sleep at night and slowly adjust to waking up earlier.
- Give yourself time to get ready! Don’t wake up five minutes before class expecting to feel awake! Get dressed and refreshed before class so you feel ready for the day.
- Fuel up in the morning! I love filling up on protein-rich foods in the morning so I stay fuller for longer and don’t get distracted in class.
I’m hoping that by taking an early morning course, I will wake up earlier on the other days of the week and get in a better habit of getting things done in the morning! If I can maintain being productive in the morning, I’ll have my afternoons for blogging or getting in the garden! Don’t get me wrong, there will surely be days that I’ll sleep in if I don’t have the early class!
I’m excited to get into the second semester, but like anyone, I have my concerns. The key is to channel that nervousness into excitement and anticipation of success! Instead of fearing math class, get excited about it making sense! I believe the first few weeks of class are key because they are the foundation of your understanding.
As the semester progresses, I’ll share more tips about college and what works for me! I’ve been taking online college courses since my senior year of high school, so I’m a little more accustomed to them, but there’s much more to college than learning to use Zoom!
I’m also planning a lot of garden work as I transform our yard into an interactive market garden!
I’m already growing some seedlings indoors for our earliest harvest and plan to do one more round of early seedlings before direct-sowing in March or April. It’s going to be a crazy transformation as the weather warms and I can get outside more!
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