Anna’s declassified college survival guide: tip #2 study smarter, not harder

Many of us grew up watching Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. His tips, while sometimes a little kooky, helped us survive middle school, but left us high and dry for high school and now…college. Life is full of making mistakes and hopefully we can all as students learn from them. 

Sometimes learning from other people’s mistakes makes our lives a whole lot easier. The purpose of this column is to do just that, learn from others and hopefully make college a lot easier to survive. 

It’s been about a month since my last tip and I hope it took you seriously. I followed my own advice and joined a new organization, Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity (APO).

My next tip will come in handy as midterms are soon approaching. With a quarter of the semester now over, it is time to get serious and start studying. Altering a quote from the 1930s by Allen Morgenstern, “Work smarter, not harder.”, my second tip for all of you is to study smarter, not harder.

We are now a month into classes and are settling in. Most of us have gotten used to waking up in time for our classes, found the best route to them (likely the one that stops by the coffee shop), found the perfect spot to sit, and hopefully found how much time we need to put in to do well in the classes that we pay a hefty amount for.

My advice for students is to use your time wisely. Some tips I have learned to do just that is to read ahead. When you read ahead, you will likely not understand everything. However, studies have shown that reading ahead will help you better comprehend what your professors are teaching during lectures.

Another way to study smarter is not to cram. I am not getting into the prioritization versus procrastination debate right now; however, I will advise you that if you have a general date when your next exam will be, that you put it in your planner and review as you go. 

Many professors make studying easier for us by putting the lecture notes online or even putting a study guide or practice test on D2L. Take advantage of the tools and resources your professors give you. Believe it or not, they actually want you (yes YOU!) to succeed. 

Two brains are usually smarter than one, and three brains are usually smarter than two. The best way to study is to study with others. While you likely still have a few weeks before midterms, start making friends with the people around you in your classes. It isn’t too late. A really good friend of mine now even only asked for my name after midterms. 

There are also many great places to study on campus. My personal favorite is renting a study room in the Miller Center. You can only have one reservation at a time, but after you use it you can schedule another one right away. Study rooms have a nice table with usually enough chairs for four to six people, whiteboards, and screens you can hook up your devices to. Study rooms are typically checked out for two hours at a time, long enough to get some serious studying done, but not too long that you lose focus. 

Other great places to study are the study rooms that can be found in every building. As a math education major, I particularly like the ECC self-supervised study room because it has a lot of whiteboard space or the Education lounge because it has very comfortable chairs.

If you aren’t as social or don’t connect well with others in your class, you can get help from tutors. Going back to studying smarter, not harder, it makes much more sense to get your questions answered by another student who knows the answer, rather than wasting your valuable time trying to figure it out yourself. Now, I don’t want to discredit the knowledge that is gained by figuring it out yourself, but after a few tries, asking for help might be a better use of your time.

Almost every department has a tutoring area, if you don’t know where it is, ASK! The university’s website lists where to find more information for tutoring hours in a wide variety of the subjects offered at St. Cloud State. 

Ending with someone who is wiser than me, A. A. Milne said “You are smarter than you seem.”

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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