blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: Starting classes off right

September 8, 2014

Starting classes off right

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I always loved starting new classes, I saw each new beginning as a chance to better than before, a nice fresh start! For some of you you're starting college classes, others may just be heading into a new set of courses, and still others are starting medical school or grad school! Go you!! 

Today I'm sharing a few tips on how to establish (or re-invent) good class and study habits. 

1) know the expectations - hopefully your professors provide syllabi for their courses, and if they do, really give it a good read. Make use of upperclassmen who have taken the courses before you - they are an invaluable resource for the "unwritten" expectations of the professor and can also share things they wish they did or knew when the course first began.

2) know the people - depending on your school it may not be possible to ever be "buddy buddy" with your professors, but the least you can do is attend office hours at least once. Most professors love what they do and are eager to teach students - they are most eager to teach students who really want to learn. If there are TAs or tutors for the course get to know them too; make use of anyone who can help you learn the material. Get to know a couple of your classmates as well - you can be support for each other but also make study groups if that works for you.

3) know the grading - now let me make a quick point before I jump into this one - there is a difference between you learning something and you getting a good grade in the class. I hope your goal is to truly learn something (many things!) in whatever class you're in. But we all know grades matter, so figure out how you will be graded and plan the semester accordingly. Does most of the grade come from two big tests, one large project, a final paper, or overall class participation? It's almost always a mix, but learn what it will be for each class especially if it's skewed towards one thing. The earlier you prepare for whatever it is the better! You could kill yourself all semester completing every single assignment and then bomb the final because you didn't spend enough time studying - if assignments were worth 70% of your grade you should be ok, but if the exam was 70%, you're out of luck. So figure out what's going to matter!

4) make a schedule - gather all of your syllabi and your academic planner and fill it in with assignment due dates and exam dates, etc. These hard dates can be penned into the month pages of your calendar; pencil in shorter goals for yourself for the weekly calendar so nothing sneaks up on you! For example - if you have an exam on say, 12 chapters, break it up and pencil in deadlines for mastering three chapters at a time, and then pencil in a review session before the exam! For a final paper, pencil in deadlines for finding sources, taking notes, and writing a draft or two before the paper's final due date. Chopping up assignments like this into smaller pieces makes it much easier to stay on top of classwork and applies for studying too! Set goals for when you're actually "studying." See my post on study tips for more specific tips about the actual studying! A good goal for staying on top of studying is to come to class having done the relevant readings already - this ensures that you can actually soak up what's going on during lecture instead of trying to figure out what's going on or blindly taking notes! Some say in the evening you can review, but the evening should be more for preparing for the next day's classes - the class itself can serve as the review! At the end of each week review and memorize things that have to be learned!

I love scheduling my actual day into hours with my to-do list in site so I can squeeze in everything that needs to be done (including relaxing)! I'm a little obsessed with the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley - here is a free daily print out that you could use for yourself and see if this type of scheduling works for you too!

I hope some of these tips can help you all who have just started a new school year! Make sure to leave feedback or post ideas in the comments section below! 


  1. good tips! i just began my first year in grad school for school psychology. my professor gave us a little study tip to use throughout the semester (after each class that you have, go over your notes and review throughout the semester) and by the time the final exam comes around, you know all of the material because you reviewed it all throughout the semester.

  2. loving the new site design. it looks great!

  3. Such great tips! I'm totally going to second knowing the grading scale. So important to prepare in advance for exams that have a heavier weight. Hope you're doing well Laura! Good luck on your ERAS, my boyfriend has quite a few pretty words to say about it. Haha!

  4. I always read my syllabus because teachers now will grade you to make sure you read it. They want you informed, which is what I see a lot, and its a common mistake. Read it! Its vital to that semester. Now, I need the scheduling part down pack. I work in the morning, and get off during the afternoon, and almost everyday, there's something someone wants me to do.

  5. Love your blog! Came across "Passion Planner" and thought you might find it interesting! -Alice


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