1. Study at a DESK!You need to be comfortable, but you also need to be in a place that helps you stay alert and focused. Studying in a bed encourages sleep, not learning.
    2. Exercise helps.Studies have shown that mental function improves with exercise and results in better memory. Research also shows that listening to music while exercising boosts cognitive levels and verbal fluency skills.
    3. Your brain needs real food. Donuts and coffee don’t cut it. The neurotransmitters in your brain are made from amino acids, which are derived from the protein in your diet. So, you need to choose high-protein foods such as cheese, eggs, meats or nuts, rather than high-carbohydrate crackers, chips, cookies or juice.
    4. Drink lots of WATER! Did you know that dehydration can lead to fatigue and lack of ability to focus? Choose more water over coffee, and keep your water chilled for added alertness.
    5. Get to know your professors! Ask questions during, before or after class. Take advantage of office hours. Ask for clarification when you do not completely understand something. Ask for suggestion on supplemental materials. These things can make a difference between an “A” or a “B”!
    6. Buy the textbook. The textbook is not optional; I don’t care what anyone tells you. If you struggling with budget, see if an older addition of the text is available, or even a digital version. But, you MUST have a textbook in order to do what you need to do.
    7. Be realistic. If you know you will consistently sleep through an 8 am class, there is no reason to sign up for it. Make a schedule you can actually keep.
    8. Use all of the helps on campus. My campus has a writing lab, a walk-in math and science lab, peer tutoring, a speech lab, and many computer/printing centers throughout the campus. And, all of these services are FREE. Find out what your college offers and take advantage. A little bit of help can easily boost your grades.
    9. You must study if you want good grades. I know you may have cruised through high school, but college is different. Instructors expect you to do the majority of work outside of class, and classes move twice as fast. Multiply the number of credit hours you are taking by 1, 2 or 3, depending on the level of difficulty. That is how many hours you need to be studying a week for each class. No, I’m not kidding.
    10. Study Groups Help. One semester, I was in a particularly difficult medieval literature class, and I was pretty sure that class was going to jeopardize my 4.0 grade point average. I didn’t know anyone in the class, but I was able to form a study group by sending a group email to class members via Blackboard, and we ended up with 8-10 people in the group. I don’t think I would have made an “A” without that group. It is a great way to clarify your understanding, revise and add to your class notes, discuss topics is greater depth, and come closer to mastering the material.

The College Class Syllabus….

Every college student gets them. But, what happens after that?

Do they end up at the bottom of a backpack, as a crumbled mess, or in a desk drawer?

After all, the instructor will remind me of everything throughout the semester anyway, right?


Dead wrong.

Most instructors will assume you are an adult and will act as a responsible one. Therefore, as soon as you get your syllabus, you have a hot date that night. Syllabus+Planner+YOU.

I’d also suggest grabbing some highlighters, colored pens, stickers… and whatever else you might want to help you recognize at a glance, what you need to be doing. The Syllabus MUST Meet Planner

Now it’s time to hack your syllabus… break it into bits and prepare a plan that will help you manage your college life.

First things first: Begin by writing EVERY test, project deadline, research paper deadline, or anything else that has a due date in your planner.  If you are the kind of person who likes things to be a fancy-pants, use stickers, highlighters or colored pens to color-code everything. For example, everything related to biology is written in green, everything related to English Comp is written in blue, etc. Highlight all tests with a yellow highlighter, and paper due dates with a orange highlighter.

Next: Do some back planning. For every deadline, count back an appropriate number of days and set a “start date” for starting to begin test prep or writing a paper. For example, you should allow 5 good study days for every exam, at minimum.

So, if you have an exam on October 25, count back 5 days in your planner and write, “Prepare study materials for Psychology test #3. On day 2,  you might write, “Study for Psychology test #3.” Continue with the notations over the next 3 days. For a large research paper, you might want to count back 2 weeks and write “Begin research for British Literature paper.” The next day you might write “continue British Lit research.” Depending on the size and depth of your paper, you may want to begin writing it 1 week prior to the due date, so you would note this in  your planner, as well.

Keep in mind: If there are days you have things going on and cannot study for your test or work on your paper, then you need to add an additional day when you set your start date for studying or preparing for a project. college-planner

NOW…. if you do this with ALL of your syllabi,  it will take a while, but it is well worth the investment of your time. Having a detailed planner goes a long way towards college success.

Image  —  Posted: October 29, 2014 in college schedule, Organization, Planners, Prioritizing, syllabus, test preparation, Time management
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My Favorite Planner Page

Posted: July 24, 2014 in Uncategorized
My FAVORITE Planner Pages

My favorite planner pages.

I have been designing my “Perfect Planner,” and almost have it ready to send to a printer. I am trying to get every part of it perfect for staying on top of work, school, and home. I have to say that my favorite pages have become my Priority One pages. I have two. One is tagged “Personal” and one is tagged “Professional.”

Each of the pages have 6 square that are about the size of a Post-It note. Each day I decide what my 6 top tasks are for the day and write each one on a Post-It note and then put it in a box. I do rank them from 1-6, based on importance. When I complete a task, I pull off the Post-It note and throw it away. The hope is that I will complete the top 6 tasks that day and have a blank sheet of paper in the end. Of course, there are occasionally tasks that will take longer than a day, and I just leave the Post-It note on the page for the next day. I rearrange and re-rank the notes, as needed each morning.

clockMany college students have responsibilities outside of their academic studies. They may be student athletes, hold a job, have a family, or have other time-consuming duties. This brings some students to ask, “How can I learn more in less time?” Some people think that it isn’t possible, but there are definitely ways a student can make the most of their study time, which translates into less time studying. If you are looking to learn more in less time, the following suggestions will help you.

  1. Take a learning style assessment test. Understanding your learning style provides insight to the best and fastest way for you to learn new material.
  2. Schedule daily study times, and stick to it.
  3. Sometimes a good portion of allotted study time is swallowed up in procrastination. Learn techniques for combating procrastination and use them. (Use this timer technique for combating procrastination.)
  4. Increase retention by reviewing class notes on a daily basis. Retaining information is more effective and less time consuming than relearning. (See Use Cornell Notes to Change the Curve of Forgetting.)
  5. Learn to use those snatches of time that are typically lost in a day. Carry flash cards or study sheets with you and reclaim those lost minutes. You can review your cards or notes while you sit in a waiting room, kill time in a car pool line, or wait for a watched pot to boil.
  6. John Wooden once said, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” In terms of striving for academic success, remember that just because you’re sitting at a desk, flipping through a text book doesn’t mean you’re studying. You need to perform a variety of study activities which will cause you to process information and internalize the concepts. (Here is a post about combining physical activity with study!)
Sneak peak at the first few pages.

Sneak peak at the first few pages.

For the last few months I’ve been designing my own planner. Even though I’ve found and used some great planners over the years, I decided I wanted to make one that would more precisely fit my needs. I have made a couple of prototypes that I liked. But, I am still making a few tweaks. I started to think about you…. my readers! I would like to have your input!

If you had the opportunity to create  your own perfect planner, what would it include?

What would you definitely leave out?

What bugs you about planners you have used in the past?

What have you loved in your favorite planners?

Kelly of Success Hacks shows you this tried and true method for taking the best classroom notes.

Video  —  Posted: July 2, 2014 in Uncategorized