Throughout the Fall semester, TRSM’s Academic Success Centre will be sharing a series of articles related to the pillars that guide their work. The second pillar is Enhancing Student Academic Success.
In my last blog post, I wrote about how to kickstart your school year and minimize stress. Now I’d like to tackle how you can plan ahead and stay on top of your study routine. There are many different approaches you can take as a student to stay organized and plan for success this semester.
Here are a few of my top tips!
Plan Your Semester with a Free Calendar
Pick up a free term calendar (PDF) from the ASC at TRS 2-168 to map out your semester at a glance. This contains the most relevant dates from the current Undergraduate calendar, such as the deadline to drop courses, complete course intentions, pay your tuition, etc. The idea is to enter all your one-time commitments such as course deadlines (found in your course outlines), personal engagements (such as wedding invitations and trips, etc.) so you will be able to plan your study time accordingly.
The calendar is available in poster and letter-sized formats. The poster version works well displayed at home in a visible place (such as above your study desk). The letter-sized format would be well placed into your binder, together with all your course information. It is also worth recording these dates into your Google calendar for timely reminders (see my next tip!).
Use Your Google Calendar
- Upload your classes before the start of the semester
This will help you plan your time and to generate a study routine.
- Upload links of campus maps and floor plans
If you paste these links into the description section of your Google calendar, you will have them handy and be less likely to get lost on campus. This will also save you time when running from one class to another when there is little time in between. In How to Make Sure You’re Never Lost (or Late) On Campus, Thomas Frank provides detailed instructions to link floor plans and campus maps with Google calendar and also recommends great phone apps for this purpose.
- Add your professors’ office hours
You can include these as an alternative calendar; that way, when needing to see a professor, you can just pull their office hours from your calendar, while also seeing how their hours fit into your own schedule. Professors tend to be accessible when their students show genuine interest in learning, so it is a good idea to introduce yourself at the end of class and attend your professors’ office hours regularly.
(Visit the Ryerson University website for a helpful guide to Google Calendar and other Google Apps at Ryerson.)
Create a Study Routine
You can also pick up a 7-day Planner (PDF) from the ASC and create a study routine. Record all your recurring commitments and start by plugging in your classes and labs/tutorials; next, your work shifts and anything else you do on a regular basis (gym, yoga class, etc.) and then block out study blocks in between.
Remember that for every hour of lecture you will need to put in 1.5 to 2 hours of studying (this time will increase close to exam periods). So if you are taking 4 courses (12 hours of lectures) you will need to find 24 additional hours for course work. This will also give you an idea of how many hours of work you may commit to during the week.
Pick a Designated Study Spot
We’re creatures of habit, so getting used to studying in the same place will increase your productivity and focus, as your brain will grow accustomed to it and getting there will automatically put you in work mode. Your designated study spot can range from a coffee shop to a particular section of the library, or a room with a desk at home. What is important is to keep in mind is that these spots should keep you away from distractions such as roommates, family, the latest television show, etc.
You may have more than one study spot, which you may juggle once in a while for a change of scenery and variety; however, try to stay away from places with heavy traffic and loud noises. Remember that distractions should not take up more time than studying.
Again: Use the Supports Available at Ryerson!
As I said in my last blog post, it’s crucial to make yourself familiar with the many supports on campus and within TRSM and more importantly, use them! Ryerson is an amazing place that offers you healthcare, career support, effective study skills and academic support, as well as counselling and athletics and recreation at once.
Remember that these resources are already included in your tuition fees, so you may as well access them. Asking for help does not make you weak! On the contrary, using the supports available to you will open new doors and will provide you with new tools to succeed.
Visit the Academic Success Centre for more tips, tools and support!