Develop a system for organizing the reams of paper you will be receiving for each class. Be sure to hole punch any handouts that you download or receive in class so you can keep the papers organized within your notebook. Some students like to keep the lecture notes they have not yet reviewed in a separate “working” folder or binder. After they’ve gone over the notes, they transfer them into the notebook for that particular class.
The Basic Three-Step Process of Learning
Before class, take a few minutes to prepare by scanning the material to be covered in lecture. This might involve glancing over one of the following: a lecture outline available online, the coop lecture notes from last year, or the appropriate chapter in your textbook.
- Selective/Active Intake
Take notes with the goal of creating a tool that you can use later to both comprehend and retain the material. Remember that what seems fairly clear during lecture may seem obscure later on.
As you initially review a particular lecture, try to see the big picture and the structure of the material. Ask yourself what the professor emphasized (clinical application, theoretical underpinnings, etc.). Clarify your notes as needed by consulting a textbook.
Structure of a Weekday
8:00 to about 5:00 This time will be devoted to attending class and/or previewing and reviewing lectures. Spend 5 minutes after each class with a friend, filling in anything you missed from lecture. If you have a break of an hour or more, go somewhere nearby to study.
5:00 to about 7:00 Most students use this time to exercise, take a mini nap, eat, return phone calls, check email, eat dinner, etc.
7:00 to 10:00 or 11:00 Review your lecture notes from the day. If you can’t get through everything, do the hardest courses first and leave easier lectures for the weekend.
10:30 to 11:00 or 12:00 Do something to relax: talk on the phone, watch a TV show you recorded, write some email messages. Prepare for tomorrow by packing your book bag and doing other preparation routines. Write tomorrow’s “to do” list on a post-it.
Get used to the fact that you will never feel completely caught up and prepared. If you find yourself tempted to stay up late to catch up, be aware that doing so will mean that you will not be able to study at top capacity tomorrow. Keep in mind that your goal is to learn, not to feel virtuous because of how hard you’re working. If you must finish a certain amount of studying before tomorrow, go to bed on time and get up earlier the next day when your concentration will be better.
First of all, don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can take a few evenings off during the week and then catch up on the weekend. Instead, work hard M-F. Keep yourself going by reminding yourself of one fun activity you have planned for the weekend.
When Saturday morning arrives, get out of your apartment! Don’t try to do a few chores or errands before you study. If you do, it might be 3:00 before you actually begin studying. Instead, study first and do other activities during the “leftovers” of your day. Think about what you can do to ensure that you will leave your apartment: make plans to meet a friend somewhere, plan on studying in a new (and nicer!) library, start the day in a pleasant environment like a coffee shop or bookstore. Students have various routines for Sundays, with some studying early and relaxing later and others doing the opposite.