By Carolina Becerril (SAR’22)
I graduated high school with both excitement and fear as I knew I was embarking on a completely unknown experience. While I was preoccupied with meeting new people and becoming as involved as I possibly could, I paid little to no attention to my study habits, organization and time-management skills. In my head, I had mastered them in the little time that 4 years really is, so really what was there to worry about? Turns out I just needed a little humbling. Over the last few years, I’ve taken the hardest lessons and turned them into tips I would give to first year students, just like you!
1. Find a system that works for YOU (aka what works for others might not work for you and that’s ok)
If you’re anything like me and love learning how others organize their work, you know that it’s easy to want to do the same for yourself, but that doesn’t always work. Some people can simply write down what they need to do on a sticky note, others can set reminders on their phones or even rely on their own memory. For me, unfortunately, that’s not the case. I personally heavily rely on my good old paper agenda for school work aka any assignments, projects, exams, etc. as well as any tasks I might have for my job as a resident assistant. In addition to my paper agenda, I use google calendar as my “master calendar”. I have essentially everything I do in this calendar: school, work, meetings, advising, clubs, etc. As overwhelming as it might sound, it has helped me remain organized and on top of what I need to do. However, this is what works for ME and I encourage you to try out different systems and truly understand what works best for you. Do your own research, watch youtube videos (highly recommend checking out my friend’s YT channel: Mira Dhakal) and try different combinations of different resources. It’s ok if things don’t work out the first, second, third, fourth time. I’ll talk about why you shouldn’t worry about this soon. Hold on tight for me.
2. Attend workshops offered around campus on time-management and organization
Boston University has a Center for Career Development that offers a variety of really useful and informative workshops on a myriad of topics. They often host workshops on time-management skills, studying strategies, organization, etc. I would highly recommend attending these as they are a great resource on campus! Additionally, you can always feel free to ask advisors for more information on this.
3. Have a designated work/study space
Something that I find is JUST as important as having a good organizational system is having a designated work/study space. I’ve found (especially during this pandemic) that it can get really tricky and overwhelming quite quickly to get work done when you mix your social or “me” space with your study space, like studying in your room. While that might work for some people, I think it is highly beneficial to separate your rest space from the space where you spend time working hard on assignments and studying for exams. It doesn’t matter what that looks like, it could be a library, a coffee shop, a study space on or off campus, just make sure you find a space that best fits your needs and goals!
4. Most importantly, be willing to fail
Something that I wish I would’ve understood my first year is how important it is to be willing to fail. I wish I would’ve understood that failure is your friend rather than your enemy. I think it’s important to know that finding what best works for you and what will yield you the best results (academically and personally) will take a while, and even when you DO find that works best for you, you might still have to change it! My willingness to try out different ways to stay organized has led me to where I am now, where I feel like I have a good system but I’m still happy and excited to see how this will change to make me a better student.
I hope this was in some way helpful. Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help and use the resource you have available to you. Good luck!