Time management is one of the most important skills for anyone to have, but college is the first time when your time management prowess is first put to the test. In high school, I was able to get most of my work done either in class or shortly after class. However, in college you are expected to put more into your subjects outside of class than during the lecture sessions. Obviously, this was kind of a shock to me at first. I knew coming in to Clemson that I would have to do more work than in high school, but unfortunately I did not realize exactly how much work until it was too late for me to salvage my grades.
I would procrastinate on projects for activities with friends or just goofing off in general. Only after my third biology test (out of four) did I really realize the magnitude of what could happen. I tried to study harder and smarter by creating study groups for the classes I was struggling in, but it was too little too late. This semester I have made an effort to change my habits from last semester, and for the most part, it is going pretty well. Instead of studying in the dorm where I could be talked into doing things that are not productive, I devote time each day to go to the library to work on projects, homework, or just study for a while. My grades have definitely improved when compared to last semester, and I hope to finish out my first full year at Clemson strong.
Procrastination has always been a huge problem of mine. While I can exceed in classes, I have learned that I almost “hate” being a student. While the material can be interesting/important, I often find myself wishing that I could be doing something else, and at times I look for any excuse not to do what is put in front of me. Last semester, this really affected me and I would skip classes because I was “too hungry” to focus or “had this really important thing going on”. While there are legitimate reasons to not go to a certain class at times, it is imperative that you make up the lost time. I rarely did that for any class, and ended up using the “bad headache” excuse far too many times to allow myself to go outside and play volleyball instead of study for Econ or Biology. If I ever DID end up doing a project, then I would just hurry it to get it done without caring about the quality of the product. This “product over process” mindset did not do well for me, and in hindsight, thinking this way could be a huge offense to my instructors. They devoted plenty of time to prepare their lectures and to present the material and I would just hand in shoddy work for them to look over because I could not be bothered to do any real work.
Obviously, this caused my grades to tank hard. Close to the end of the semester, I tried to pick up the slack I had left on my academic focus, but at that point it was pretty much too late. While Biology does not always build on itself, Economics definitely does. This semester I have made a point to set annoying alarms to remind myself when class is, and I have a childhood friend of mine checking up on me to make sure I am doing the stuff I need to be focusing on. I do not have perfect grades this semester and still struggle with the temptation to procrastinate, but with friends and family to keep me accountable, I have made progress in slowing down my procrastinating tendencies.
Using Dr. Felder's checklist, I got seven "yes" answers and five "no" answers. Some of the questions really made me reevaluate my study habits. For instance, one of the questions asked if I went over study guides with other people instead of just studying alone. Upon thinking about it, I should have tried using outside sources instead of trying to power through on my own. That, sleeping more, outlining problem solutions, and making absolutely sure that I understand all the homework questions could make a world of difference in the future. I’ve come to realize that my old studying habits in high school don’t work nearly as well in college.
Another important thing to consider is that I cannot truly solve all of my problems alone. After reading this chapter and examining the questions on the checklist, I realize that I need to be more honest with myself and approach my teachers when I struggle in something. For example, I’m not especially gifted when it comes to Economics or Calculus, yet I have both of those classes this semester. Instead of trying to “tank” my way through like I attempted last semester, a smarter idea would be to ask my teacher for help on the more difficult homework problems instead of just hoping for the best. Another solution would be to go to a tutor. Even if I’m paying the tutor to just sit there and go over flash cards, having someone who knows what they’re doing makes a huge impact when it comes to taking tests, especially for a visual learner like me.
Group Projects and Professor Communication
One of the most terrifying things in high school was the idea of group projects. While it does provide the chance to work with friends, it can end horribly. The ideal scenario has everyone in the group participating equally, where each member uses their individual strengths to add to the project, reducing stress for everyone. In my experience, however, people cannot always be trusted to put it the effort required. I’ve been stuck doing the entire group project many times because the other members were “just too busy” to come to the meetings or even respond to a simple group text. I understand and appreciate the intention of boosting a sense of cooperation among each other, but I have never been fond of group projects.
Professors are rarely completely apathetic regarding your academic progress. In fact, they would prefer that everyone did well in their classes. Obviously, they cannot just give everyone free A’s in their class, but they will be willing to help if you can be honest and humble enough to ask for help and guidance. Making regular appointments with instructors lets them know that you care about what they have to say, and this can mean more than you know to them. In some cases, this can even influence potential grading curves on tests/final grades. I was too prideful last semester to admit that I needed help with coursework, but this semester being honest enough to ask them for help has paid off significantly. I definitely plan to make visiting during office hours a regular habit in my future classes.
Paul Bayer Seminar
Last semester was very rough, to say the least. I goofed off most of the semester and barely got C’s and one D in my classes, landing me in academic probation. It wasn’t the worst GPA I could have gotten, but it definitely was not good. This semester I’ve started attending tutoring sessions, going to teachers during office hours, and doing homework in the library instead of in the dorm.
Tutoring sessions help significantly, especially when it comes to math and economics. Math has always been a difficult subject for me since I’m more of a visual learner than a verbal learner, and most of my teachers relied heavily on speaking instead of writing things down. I did take an econ class in high school, but it was nowhere near as intense as Clemson’s classes are.
I used to believe that having to go to teachers’ office hours was a sign of defeat, but this semester I’ve seen that it’s actually the opposite. Accepting defeat would be to continue in your status quo and not changing anything. Instead, by going to the teacher with questions, it’s saying that you care enough about success to want to adjust your strategies in order to pass the class.
Finally, I learned that dorm life is seriously distracting. You can’t walk anywhere without running into someone, and even if you’re just sitting in your dorm working on something, someone is bound to come in and drag you away from what you’re focused on. By going to the library, I’ve eliminated a lot of that stress and get a lot more done, and much faster than before.
This semester isn’t perfect, but I hope to take the victories I’ve achieved recently and apply them to my future academic career. College is all about learning, and I’m at the stage where I’m having to “learn how to learn”, something that isn’t fun but is a necessary part of life.