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A desideratum.

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WHAT I DID DIFFERENTLY LAST SEMESTER AND HOW IT WORKED FOR ME

I started at one of the universities of my dreams as a transfer student. Yes, I've almost completed my bachelor's degree. Yes, I'm excited. When I was speaking with my advisor about my transition as a student in my current university, we spoke of things I'm doing differently, what has been working for me, and what I can do to improve.

Being at this school was an improvement in itself. I am being challenged. I am learning. I am enjoying myself and the environment is great. People are nice and welcoming. The professors know their s***. While in the midst of this discussion, I suddenly realized why I was succeeding at this school. It wasn't just the wonderful professors or the great atmosphere. It was me. I had changed my ways. So what did I do that worked out so well for me?

INVESTING MORE INTO MY EDUCATION

The first thing I did was invest in a laptop.I am know that everyone is not able to or saying that everyone should. For me, it was crucial. I needed to be able to work on the go and a laptop could provide that. Writing papers became easier because I had time to plan them out and sometimes procrastinate. I also had more time to sleep because I wasn't stuck on a university computer all night long. My laptop became a place where I did most of my readings. I had to read a lot of Dante and Thomas Aquinas last year for a final paper. Having all of my papers, projects, PDFs, and ebooks in one place was life changing and it made me super organized. I got a lot more done in a shorter amount of time.

I also used my laptop for note-taking. I swore I would never be that girl who uses her MacBook in class while the professor is going on and on about literature, but I have and it has changed my life. I don't actually have to rewrite my notes and this makes revising easier. Microsoft Notebook came in handy. I was able to break each notebook down by semester, class, homework and notes, and anything else that was important for me to remember. The app itself allowed me to highlight and mark important bits of information. The app has a key or legend where it breaks down each color highlighter and the functions of the symbols. This makes breaking down notes simple and effective. I kept on top of my schedule and deadlines. This app also syncs to all devices.

The next things are schedules and deadlines. iCalendar or the Calendar app works wonders because it syncs to my phone. Everything is color coordinated. I have everything on there from school related things like studying, homework and reading times, to events in and out of school, to my work schedule. I never have an excuse why I can't meet a deadline or why I missed an event I wanted or didn't want to attend because I basically copy and paste my syllabi and my entire life onto my calendar. 
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. - Malcom x

MINIMALISM IS KEY

I didn't carry a lot of things with me. I carried my wallet, my phone, my laptop and kindle, a notebook, and some pens. I do not like carrying too many things.  I don't enjoy the stress of having too much weight on my shoulders. I don't like the way a bookbag takes up too much space in an overcrowded city. Have you tried getting on a train when your bookbag is overflowing and takes up the space of two or more people? It just makes everyone uncomfortable. I carry a tote with the bare necessities and I am good to go.

MAKING SURE PROFESSORS KNOW WHO I AM AND ASKING FOR HELP WHEN NECESSARY

I've never been a shy person. I like to raise my hand and interact in class. I sit in the front and sometimes I am that annoying know it all. Besides the introductions in class that we are forced to do at times, I like to go to office hours and have a small conversation with my professor. Most of the time they are more than happy to go more in depth about what they expect, what you can expect, and they will give you tips on how you can succeed in the class. One of my professors told me to work smart not hard. There's no point in exhausting yourself if things are getting done properly.

When I introduced myself, I found that the professors could see how dedicated I am after having one conversation. If I ran into trouble with something, they were more than happy to help. I almost missed a deadline because I was struggling with a paper. My professor was more than happy to give me a small extension on the condition that I meet with her to help smoothe the process of completing my paper.

SETTING MY ALARM A COUPLE HOURS EARLY

I've never been a morning person, but I really like mornings. I've never been someone who can just get out of bed and feel all of this energy. I am a very sleep gal and getting up in the morning feels like a process. So setting my alarm in a couple of hours earlier than necessary gives me time to wake up, take my time getting ready, have breakfast, go over notes, finish or work on readings and assignments, and to relax. There's nothing worse than having to rush out the door. I like my mornings peaceful. To me, a peaceful morning is a time to relax and breathe before I have to be a functioning adult. Peaceful mornings lead to having a good day. We all love good days.

REMINDING MYSELF TO BREATHE & HAVE FUN

I'd love to be able to do everything and give one hundred percent, but sometimes that's not realistic. By then it's two months into the semester and I'm exhausted. I may have skipped a meal because I forgot to eat. I'm hitting snooze when I should be getting ready to go. I'm making simple mistakes and getting frustrated. This is when I remind myself to breathe. I am only human. I am not perfect. Sometimes I'm just not up for it or I'm not feeling completely healthy. It's okay to take moments for myself. It's okay to take a step back to reevaluate or revisit the situation.

The best thing I did was meet people inside and outside of my major. Having friends from uni offered me the opportunity for study groups and someone to help me revise work that I've done. Friends from uni share the same stress. They need to let loose sometimes too. Going out to dinners, movies, or just hanging released a lot of stress. We had fun together and we stressed about school together. We reminded ourselves to breathe and took moments for ourselves and to reflect.

University can be one of the hardest, most stressful times in one's life, but it can also be a great experience. I'm trying to make my undergrad years a bunch of happy memories down the road. By changing the way I did things previously, I was able to grow and become a better student who had a little bit more time for herself.

What are some things you did differently last semester that worked for you?

DARIANNE 

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