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13 Jun Advice For New University Students

From the relative controlled confines of High School to the free as a bird University environment. Okay a bit of a stretch; but, many students succumb to the freedoms that University allows. For one, there is really no regular check on whether one is keeping up. Sadly I have witnessed many students with potential fall into the trap of this “freedom”. In high school one of my great teachers gave us a few pieces of wise advice. One was that time off and fun is more enjoyable and more enriching if it isn’t every night. The idea being that if one takes some weekend time as a reward then it means more. My “big night off” was Friday night. After a heavy week of lectures, labs and clinic time (I am a dentist) I was ready for the socially ‘unredeeming’ life that a local pub had to offer. And Mongtreal had and still has some great palces to enjoy this part of life. Not exactly the stuff Nobel prizes are made of, or maybe it is. I loved the break from the routine and the social repartee was welcome. I tend to be a fun loving guy and this came out in those days. I had a Jewish classmate who observed the Sabbath starting at Sun Down on Fridays. I remarked, kiddingly, that I too had deep religious practices. “I never studied on Fridays.” Mind you I sometimes awoke at the crack of noon the next morning but I spent many hours studying on Saturday and Sunday. My point was that I took the advice of that teacher, I looked forward to those Friday evenings and I think it broke the ice in stress release.

Another good piece of advice I received from a fellow, who was a few years ahead of me, was to hit the library as soon as school started. I once read that a habit takes 21 days to form and the idea of going to the library, from the onset of school, established a pattern that was a solid basis for a steady trend. I was never stressed at University as I was always ahead of the game, as far as cramming was concerned. I loved it when I could go to bed early the night before exams, having ensured I was ready.

The time leading up to exams was a big part of my organization program. I would divide subjects into several sections. For example I would review a topic and perhaps divide it into ten parts. The idea was to do 5 sections the first week, then the next five sections during the second week. The first night I would study section one, then the next night I would study section two with a review of section one. This continued for the five sections. At then end of the first week of study I would do a full review of all parts I had studied. The second week I would do the second half of the course and review it all at the end of the week. The following days, after week two, I would review all 10 parts of the course. This was done with all courses. None of these reviews were the first time I had seen any topic. In fact, it was an actual review of studied materials.

In summary, enjoy University; but, every night is not play night. In my case it was Fridays for sure, plus the occasional Saturday if an event was in the planning. Start at the beginning of the school year to spend time in the library or another place which is conducive to the concept of studying. As well avoid cramming by organizing your review time in advance and of course keep up as the year progresses. And most important, have fun. Looking back that was the best part of my school years.

Dr Michael A Pilon

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