I will say right away, that I am definitely not an expert in this area. I am the farthest from it and have a lot of learning to do. Regardless of this, I feel as though my first year has given me some form of experience. My first year went by with a flash of light in vivid detail and the lessons learned along the way were extraordinary. The following are tips and tricks in different subcategories of college and what worked for me.
Places: There are a few different types of places to study. Depending on the atmosphere you prefer, changing where you decide to study can change. Here are a few examples.
-Typing an essay- I would choose a quieter place, like the library or your dorm room. But I would caution that dorm rooms can be distracting (from my own experience lol). If you choose your dorm room, keep noise to a dull roar and the tv off. If you like the sound of rain, I recommend using this website: www.rainymood.com. I love it when I need to drown out sound and focus.
-Making notecards- I usually go to the student union, where it typically is louder, but if it gets too loud then I move.
-Doing an assignment: I like a medium traffic area like where people don't sit down but pass by. Where my dining center is, underneath is a hallway type area where people pass by. That way I can put my headphones in and there isn't a lot of noise and I can ignore people without being rude.
-Group project meetings: I had a group project that ended up going very well. We met about every week and had a group message going on Facebook messenger.
There are a few other places I like: the upstairs of the library, Starbucks, and the lounge at the end of my hall in my dorm. There are pros and cons to each one, so changing up the scenery happens a lot for me. What you like and what kind of environment you like, where you study will change based on that.
Favorite pens: Papermate flair in medium and Pilot G-2 in .7 or .5
My laptop if writing a paper or my tablet if I am just writing a short assignment or accessing google drive.
I like studying between my classes at the student union to refresh what I learned in class, and before five. Sometimes I do end up studying until 3 am, but hey, it happens.
Programs/Apps: two words. Google Calendar. The first week of school my professor recommended using this program and I am so happy I started using it. In addition to the online version with my laptop, I also bought an app for my iPhone that syncs with it. The name of it is "CalenMob" on the app store. The full version is a little pricey, but there are free versions when you search "Google Calendar."
Agenda: I recently purchased a planner from PlumPaper Designs and I am pretty excited about it. There are many styles and kinds to choose from. In the past I have just used the one that my university, but I think if I had a bigger size, it would be easier and clearer to read. Buy something that you will use and like.
Systems: color-code, color-code, color-code. Assign each class a color and stick with it. Use the colors in your planner and google calendar. Some people use the same color pens when they take notes, but that's a little too pedantic.
*Quick tip: At the end of each week (when things are in full swing), I like to plan the next week out. Write all the last minute things that I want to get done the next week and add as the week progresses. During the weekend I make a to do list of things I want to get done or projects I want to get a head start on and that way I will be ahead of the game (at least a little bit).
Where to sit: If given the choice, I will always sit in the front. I can see the whole board and I can hear the professor much more clearly. Just make sure to take note of the professor's policy on where to sit based on your note taking strategy. For a couple of my classes, if I wanted to take notes on a laptop, I would have to sit in the back and some wouldn't allow laptops in class due to the distraction of others.
Syllabi: After you get each syllabus for class, put them all in one place. Sit down with each one and put the tentative schedule in your planner/google calendar. Especially test and project due dates. Compiling all of these dates will help in short term planning in the future.
Talk to them. Get to know them. Introduce yourself after the first lecture. It is a lot easier asking for advice when they are able to make a connection from your name to your face. It can be intimidating but they are people just like you...just older and wiser. Make as much contact you can in the classroom as well as by email. Just make sure that you use proper grammar. Nothing is more embarrassing than misspelling a common word in an email. Keep it professional.
Things you should get....but are not on your checklist
-An extra phone charger
-Stand up lamp (read your dorm rules)
-Travel mugs for water or coffee
They tell you over and over in summer orientation that "college isn't high school." You will soon realize this. Treat it like a job and take it seriously. Learn a lot, but have fun in the process. My first year was a whirlwind of learning and exciting experiences. Have fun at orientation and get ready! Summer will end sooner than you think!