By Alexis Rodriguez > Junior > English > Cornell University
‘Tis the season…for testing. My freshman year I thought I was slick being an English major. My first year in college was completely 100% test-free (albeit entirely filled with thousands of words and reading between the lines) and here I was thinking college was going to be a breeze. Then the reality of requirements (four credits of math?!?!) settled in and my advisor dashed all my hopes and dreams of flying by four years.
Having to sit in a crowded room for two hours, surrounded by people who smell like they haven’t taken a shower since the semester started, and answering questions that you’ll forget the answers to as soon as you walk out the door (if you even knew them in the first place) is the worst. It’s not like in high school where you might have a test every week. Here in the big leagues there’s only about 3 tests a semester and your grade desperate depends on your performance; no pressure. The key is how to master your tri-semester enemy and be able to control your grade instead of letting a series of multiple choice questions manipulate your GPA.
The biggest problem I see that most college students have is waiting-to-the-last-minute syndrome. Our schedules are filled with constant roadblocks to healthy study habits. However, despite all the websites that dominate your internet history and meetings and parties that demand your attendance, it is of the utmost importance to spread your studying out. If you wait until the last minute to cram, you will severely stress yourself out, lose sleep, eat nothing but crackers, and be completely miserable. Read your assigned chapters (when they’re actually assigned), if you take notes, review them every night, and pay attention during lecture (aka stay off Facebook).
The problem is that most of us have it in our heads that we have all the time in the world when our test is next month. Workloads pile up; while your professors may be great, they tend to forget that their class isn’t the only course you’re taking this semester. You start to put off studying so much that it’s the night before the big day and you pull an all-nighter to learn an entire month and a half’s worth of information.
Some of your majors may require you to take some of the hardest classes offered (for me, every math or science course there is). It’s important to understand yourself and how you learn information and study in the most efficient manner. Never be afraid to go to office hours to bombard your TA or professor with 50 questions or get a tutor to help you study. Many times professors’ methods of teaching are not conducive for every single student in their class so having outside options to help you understand the concepts is what bumps a B up to an A. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a tutor, put together a study group of people in your class. Sometimes hearing your peers’ perception of the current topic you all are learning helps you understand things in a different light.
The more you develop great study habits and spread your workload/studying out over a long period of time instead of waiting for the morning of, the happier you will be. It’s amazing what prioritizing and staying focused and disciplined will do for your stress levels. Always balance yourself out and plan something fun to do with your friends on a Friday night. Maybe college isn’t as easy as I once thought as a naïve freshman, but there are definitely things we can do to ease the pain.