The start of a new semester is an exciting time, but the lull that comes after midterms is the opposite: homework is starting to pile up, it’s hard to feel energized, and finals are still in the distant future. There’s still so much school left! But don’t fear—there are ways to stay engaged, energized, and even excited about the weeks to come. Here’s 5 ways to stay focused for the rest of the semester:
1. Set small, achievable goals
If the only goal you have this semester is to pass your classes, then you might have a hard time getting motivated. Why? Because finals are still far away. Instead, set smaller, more frequent goals. Like getting your homework done before the weekend starts! Setting goals like this gives you achievable benchmarks. Better yet, smaller goals means the task at hand never feels insurmountable.
2. Practice time-management
Everyone has a tired or lazy side, but don’t let it take control of your life! During the second half of the semester, it’s especially important to practice time-management, which will help you avoid spending too much time surfing the internet, watching TV, or playing video games. That isn’t to say you should avoid leisure activities. Instead, budget your fun the same way you budget your money. That way you’ll always have the time you need to sleep and study.
3. Get involved
Look for ways to spice up your academic calendar by joining a new club, practicing a new sport, going to the gym more often, or even finding social ways to study—book groups, for example. Otherwise, you risk falling into a boring routine of class and homework, which makes it difficult to get energized and work hard for the rest of the semester.
4. Go to class
It’s easy to preach, but harder to practice. Still, going to class is perhaps the single best way to stay engaged in your education. Do whatever it takes to get out of the bed in the morning: drink coffee, set an alarm, or even ask your roommate to wake you up.
5. Reward yourself
You’ve already made it halfway through the semester. That means there’s only half more to go before winter break! Step back, relax, and take a little time to celebrate how far you’ve come—whether that means taking a day off to hang out with friends or even just to sit on your couch and read a book of your own choosing. The point here is to let all the stress out of your body and have some fun. You can gear up and get back to work tomorrow.
Professors are human, like everyone else. They have feelings, preferences, and pet peeves. While they’re supposed to be objective, especially when it comes to grades, it’s impossible to rule out the effect of their subjective judgments. That’s why it always pays to get—and stay!—on your professor’s good side. Here’s how to get on your professor’s good side:
Participate in class.
Nothing will get you on your professor’s good side faster than in-class participation. No professor—even in a lecture-based class—wants to spend the entire time talking to a bunch of blank faces. Instead, get involved. Even if that means just asking questions.
Ask good questions.
Not all questions are created equal, of course. Asking what the homework is if the homework is already listed on the syllabus will just demonstrate that you’re not really paying attention. It’s better to ask questions that show you’re engaged with the material, even if you’re only asking for help.
Don’t distract other students.
If you’re eating in class, noisily unwrapping a candy bar, or playing on your phone, whispering to your friends, or even trying to nap with your eyes open, you should assume your professor will notice. This is especially true if your behaviors affect other students’ ability to concentrate. Never do these things and you’re one step closer to getting on your professor’s good side!
Make use of your professor’s office hours.
Most professors spend at least a few hours a week sitting alone in their offices, hoping a student will come in for some one-on-one help. Making use of that time will definitely improve your comprehension of the material, may boost your performance on final exams, will probably improve your participation grade, and will go a long way to convincing your professor that you’re an actively-engaged student.
Show up to class on time.
Arriving to class late on a regular basis is a sure-fire way to get noticed by your professor—and not in a good way. Showing up on time, on the other hand, will ensure that you get and stay on your professor’s good side for the whole semester. Consistency is key! Be a polite, reliable student from the moment class starts to the moment it ends.
Studying may not be fun, but it will help you get better grades on everything from homework to final exams. And good grades are essential for everything from scholarships to competitive job applications, so it pays to study hard and often. Thankfully we’re here to make the process a little easier with 5 unusual study tips to improve your grades:
1. Take breaks every 90 minutes.
It seems counter-intuitive, but taking breaks from studying is key to studying success. Try taking a break after every 90-minute study session, which will give your body a chance to reset and renew, boosting energy levels and alertness.
2. Take a short nap.
But not for longer than 20 minutes. This limits you to the lighter stages of sleep, which boosts energy and alertness in the same way taking a break does: by giving your body a chance to relax. However, napping for longer than 20 minutes may result in a groggy feeling, in which you feel more tired than before your nap. Avoid grogginess at all costs!
Physical exercise increases blood flow to the brain, meaning you can focus longer and remember more. Plus it releases endorphin, which makes you happy! Better still, exercise reduces stress and may help you fall asleep at night.
4. Study somewhere new.
According to The New York Times, just switching study spots each time you study increases data retention. Come up with a routine. Hit the library, the coffee shop, your dorm room, and whatever study lounges you can find. The point here: variety is important.
5. Eat a banana.
Bananas are brain food! They have tons of vitamins and minerals and low glycemic carbohydrates, making them the perfect food to boost your energy. Other good study foods include peanut butter, fish, eggs, and (of course!) coffee.
Just because you go to class doesn’t mean you’ll automatically remember the information, perform well on exams, impress the professor, and score a good grade. Knowing how to excel in class is very important. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a few tips to make it easier:
1. Show up on time.
One of the most important ways to excel in class is also one of the most obvious: don’t show up late. Showing up late guarantees you’ll miss material and, depending on your professor’s attendance policy, may even lower your grade. So err on the side of caution and show up a few minutes early.
2. Ask questions.
College classes are designed to be difficult. That fact can be intimidating, especially to freshman, but remember: it’s okay if you don’t understand all the material all the time. Just ask questions if you’re ever lost or confused. Professors love to elaborate and clarify. Better yet, asking questions may even boost your participation grade!
3. Take notes.
Even if you feel comfortable with the material covered in class, it still pays to take notes. Taking notes improves data retention, keeps you focused on the task or lecture at hand, and even boosts comprehension of the material. Why? Because people learn better when they engage with the material in multiple ways. In other words, hearing a lecture uses one part of your brain while writing it down uses another. You remember more when those powers combine!.
4. Sit in the front.
Sitting in the front of class means you’ll always be able to see the board and hear the professor. Better yet, sitting in front means the professor can see you. That means no sleeping, goofing off, or playing games on your phone. It forces you to stay engaged with the material throughout the entire class. Come test time, you’ll be thankful you sat where you did.
5. Make use of your professor’s office hours.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking questions in class, or have missed classes, or otherwise need help with the material, head in to your professor’s office for one-on-one help. Most professors have at least two office hours per week, giving you ample opportunity to schedule visits.
If your blood pressure rises when midterms draw near, then it’s probably time to start studying. That’s because performing well on exams isn’t just a matter of being smart. It’s also a matter of being prepared. Ace your midterms with these study tips:
1. Start studying as early as you can.
Don’t cram all night immediately before exams. Instead, study for shorter periods of time on a more regular basis over time. This encourages long-term data retention instead of temporary memorization.
2. Study often.
As suggested above, studying more frequently is better than studying for longer periods of time. Learning, after all, is an exercise in repetition: the more times you visit the material, the better you’re able to remember it.
3. Study during the day.
Doing it at night means you’re probably doing it tired. Tired people don’t focus well or retain as much. Even if you’re not tired when you study, you’ll probably be tired the next day as a result of studying, which limits the usefulness of follow-up study sessions.
4. Exercise first.
Take a jog, ride a bike, run up and down the stairs, hit the gym, or just do some jumping jacks in your dorm room. The movement will increase blood flow to your brain. Now, a little science for you: brains with increased blood flow work better, remember more, and have an easier time recalling information.
5. Study in different places.
According to The New York Times, just switching study spots each time you study increases data retention, so it pays to come up with what you might call a “location rotation.” Hit the library, the coffee shop, your dorm room, study lounges around campus—anywhere and everywhere that’s suitable for studying. The point here: variety is the spice of life and studying.
6. Know your ideal environment.
If you study best in a group, find one. If you like your silence, skip the aforementioned coffee shop. Know how your brain works, where you can and can’t focus, and make the extra effort to find conditions you excel under. Then seek them out.
7. Make sure you have your books.
Don’t think that going to class in enough. You need your textbooks! Buy or rent your books with our sister-brand, ValoreBooks, to save up to 90% off list price. Plus, once the semester is over, you can sell those textbooks back for cash!