The four things you wish you did at the beginning of each semester
The trade-off faced by many at the beginning of semester generally involves the value of good marks versus the succulent drip of a sweet amber nectar at the local watering hole. “Delayed gratification” is, quite frankly, a hideous phrase for a student to hear.
Much of our uni life is learnt in the cracks between formal studies – I’m talking about the suggested reading of a book not prescribed in class, an informal meeting by your favourite society, the protests around campus, or even meeting that bright young thing in the line for a takeaway coffee that blossoms into a fruitful relationship. Therefore it should be no surprise that our marks may suffer just a tad.
But at the end of the day, these delightful moments don’t feature in the Arial-fonted boredom they call your transcript. So for good measure, I’ve compiled a list of things to do at the beginning of semester to set you up for success, so you’re immune to that distracting thing at uni we call life.
Attend all (or most) lectures
Apparently this is a no-brainer, but anyone who has spent any time in class listening to the white noise coming out of boring lecturers know that skipping lectures is just about the best thing to do at uni. I’m going to put my hand up and challenge this; of course some lecturers will bore the hell out of you, but surely submitting yourself to an hour of that time, however painful it may be, will reap benefits in your future ability to tolerate the boring and mundane. You’ll also adapt to their particular style and quickly discern from them what’s important and what’s not. Also, you’re paying to be there, so do it.
Buy a diary
Call me a luddite, but there is something to be said of literally inking something in your own diary for future reference. The labour time it takes to find a pen from the hidden vestiges of your bag to jot down homework or said fellow coffee-lover’s number means that you’re far more likely to turn that note into an action. Carrying a diary around demands a parent-like devotion to its safekeeping and protection from damage. It will become another extremity, and you’ll be grateful for the organisation it brings come stuvac.
Start assignments early
The night before nightmare is a table at which we’ve all reluctantly sat. It’s an unpleasant but ultimately necessary sacrifice to scrape through, and afterwards when you’re well rested, you’ll probably think the two weeks beforehand spent procrastinating was worth it (Reddit ftw).
But weighing up the pros and cons, it’s probably best to plan your assignments early and add to them day by day, as an astute saver would with money to his/her bank account. The daily commitment will soon develop into a large enough body of work that, when the time comes, will allow you to create a decent body of work in time for the due date without the added stress of an all-nighter. On a realistic note: there will always be stress. Embrace it.
Plan your break
And finally, there’s nothing quite like a holiday after slaving away at uni for 12 hours a week. Because don’t we all deserve a break from having too much fun. But seriously, to really maximise the uni holiday, try and lock something in to do at the beginning of semester that you can look forward to. Trips up the coast, days at the beach, camping, learning a language – whatever tickles your fancy. By planning your fun-time, you’ll compartmentalise your life and allow yourself the break you either truly deserve or desperately want.
Rory is studying a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Notre Dame.