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There are two ways to approach college. The first is to be intentional and plan out your studies. The second is to just let college “happen” to you. Obviously a little planning can go a long ways toward giving you the best educational experience. In this post, we are going to look at five tips for making your college years more efficient.
1. Take intersession courses from a junior college.
Over Christmas break of my junior year, my brother and I took American History from our hometown community college in seven days. These were eight hour days with two or three tests each day. The rest of our time was spent studying. It was very challenging, but those seven days of focus cleared three hours from our schedule at a fraction of the cost of the same course at the private university we were both attending. Taking a few classes like this every year can easily allow you to graduate a semester early or just free up some time for other courses that are only available at the more expensive institution. (Just make sure you fully understand the policy on transferring credits before you put in the work.)
2. Understand In-State Tuition
College is expensive, but the cost for in-state students is usually much less than for out-of-state students. Take a look at what the rules are for establishing residency at the college of your choice. You may find it is worthwhile to change your permanent address and get a driver’s license in your college town rather than keeping your parents’ address. Also, if you are looking for a school, keep in mind that some schools offer in-state tuition to students from adjacent states.
3. Choose the right friends
The friends you keep in college will affect everything from the grades you make to your weight when you graduate. If you hang out with people who study and get good grades, you’ll be more likely to get good grades yourself. If you hang out with people who binge eat and snack all the time, you are probably going to graduate with several extra pounds. If your friends procrastinate, you’ll probably start putting things off. Your friends also form a cornerstone of your social network, so your opportunities later in life will be heavily influenced as well.
4. Keep good records
At a minimum, you need a single calendar to put all of your assignments on and a filing system with a folder for each class. When you get the syllabus, put it into the folder. When the teacher hands back an assignment, put it in the folder. You know how students sometimes say that they accidentally deleted or lost a paper? That happens to teachers as well, but with grades. Make sure you can show what grade you should have if something gets lost or mixed up.
5. Know your productive times
If you are at your peak performance at 6 am, plan your day around getting the most done at that time. This might mean going to bed earlier and doing your most challenging homework early in the morning. Also, don’t try to force yourself to study when you really need to sleep. Plan ahead to keep yourself from getting into situations where you don’t have any other option. If you can complete a study task in 30 minutes at your peak efficiency, it doesn’t make sense to try to do it when you are worn out and it will take 3 hours.