Dec 13, 2011

Welcome Abroad, Freshman!

Welcome Abroad, Freshman!
So you are a college student now. Congratulations finally, your wish has come true. However, you need to be aware that studying in college is a very expensive undertaking in both time and money. Four or five years can literally cost you 20-30 million rupiah! That means your need to get prepared. If you are not prepared, you’ll end up wasting valuable time and money by not getting the most from what your are paying for.

The more energy you put forth to make your living situation more tolerable, the less energy, time and concentration you need to devote to study. By being mentally prepared before your start school, and by learning a few new life-skills, you can concentrate on your academics when you get there and not bogged down by unrealistic goals and high expectations. Here are some tips dealing with strategies and other information about campus life you can try out.

Listen Up
One of the most important skills required to learn from lectures successfully is listening. However, most students don't pay much attention to listening. Active listening in a lecture is a must. You should anticipate and ask questions concerning what the instructor says, and then sort or categorize the information being presented. This is best carried out if you sit in the best area of the classroom-the front row and the desks down the middle-where you can see and hear clearly.

Adapting to the style of the instructor's teaching is not less important. First, recognize his/her pace in teaching - slow, fast or monotonous. Then, decide how you'll grasp the information and manage to follow the challenging pace, especially the fast and monotonous one.

Take notes
First year students usually find it difficult to decide what to write down during a lecture because they are used to the direction and structure of high school classes. Unlike nigh school students who usually write down information according to their teacher's instructions, college students have to decide for themselves what needs to be written down. Note that the importance of a piece of information your instructor is giving is determined by your Instructor's objectives for the course, how the lectures and textbook fit together, what you're expected to do with the lecture materials, and how you'll be evaluated.

There are some ways to get this kind of information. First, watch for verbal clues like “First . . . second . . .” which refer specifically to series of important points or more explicit clues like “Note that......," Second, if the instructor takes the trouble to write something on board, it is important. So, write it down on your notebook. Third, never ignore non-verbal information like the instructor's facial expression or tone of voice because it can indicate that the point is important. Finally, examine the course outline, which is usually distributed in the first class. It indicates which topics will be emphasized.

Read Smart
Reading course materials needs effective strategies so that you can get the most from what you're doing-understanding the content thoroughly. Use the SQ4RS reading strategy. SQ4RS stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Record and Reflect. First of all, Survey the headings, bold type, charts and questions at the back of the chapter to create memory fasteners. The main idea of each paragraph is usually in the first sentence. While reading each section, ask yourself Questions. Answer these questions after you read each section; Recite the answers out loud to engage your various senses. Then Record your key answers in a notebook. Finally, you should reflect by tying in the new information with what you already know.

Deal With Writing Assignments
A part of the heavy workload you'll face in college is writing papers. Once you are assigned a paper, do it systematically. First, make an outline to support your theme. To come up with points to support your theme, draw a circle with the main topic inside. Then, draw lines spreading around the circle and label them with ideas to support or prove your main idea. Do this quickly without stopping to second-guess what you've written - just brainstorm. Then list the most important points you intend to use. This so called mind mapping is very helpful, especially when you don't have anything in mind about how to start writing.
The first paragraph should tell the reader what you are going to write about, why, and the main points you will provide to prove your idea. Then, develop the points you've listed in the introduction in the body of your essay. In your conclusion, sum up one or two of the most important points

Manage Time Effectively
As a college student you'll have loads of work to do. The best way to carry them out successfully is by managing your time well. But you’ll face some problems. One of the most common problems in time management is procrastination - putting off the planned activities. Most students blame their problems of procrastination on laziness and lack of self-discipline. But this is not quite true. What actually happens to them is that they do too much of the same activity at one sitting so that they easily get bored and tired. Instead of finishing their work, they put it off. If this also happens to you, you need to plan one hour each day over four days, for instance, rather than spending four hours one evening, reading difficult and unpleasant materials.
In addition, procrastination is sometimes a symptom of lack of motivation or the loss of a sense of purpose for being at university. So, watch out if you like putting off your assignments.

Find Information about the Faculty
A conducive, teaching-learning process will help you manage your study effectively. There are some factors you should take into account: the lecturers, number of students and academic advisors. First, find out how much time lecturers spend per student in one semester. Do they welcome visits and questions?

As a first year student, you'll learn the basic parts of every subject you choose. That’s why you need to know whether it is experienced professors or graduate students who actually teach the class you take. Second, ask current students if most classes are small enough for the teacher to get to know you. This is important because the more attention a teacher pays you, the easier it is for you to grasp what he is explaining. Finally, get to know the number of students who will be assigned to your academic adviser. An adviser will work effectively if they only have a few students to advise.

Explore the Libraries and Laboratories
A library is home to books, periodicals and references and this is where you will spend most of your time, doing research. Go there and see how many books and periodicals there are. See if the library holdings keep up with scientific discoveries and new information. Laboratories aren't less important than libraries in that they provide you with the scientific equipment you'll need to practice what you have learnt in theory classes. Thus, it is important that you know what kind of equipment is available in the labs and how big lab classes are.

Get Familiar with Campus Life
As a college student, you'll spend most of your time on campus. This requires you to get familiar with the atmosphere and facilities there - student activities, student bodies, cafeterias, transportation in the campus area, parking lots, sports activities, the sports center, medical services, banking services, etc.
Studying in college will leave you with loads of assignments, most of which are writing papers. For this reason, you need to know what support services are available-tutors, writing assistance, counselors and skill centers.
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