My memorization skills where what got me through high school. It’s how I easily remembered and could recall every president of the U.S., memorized documents from history, and knew math formulas. I made my way through hundreds of flashcards and mnemonics each semester and always saw success from doing so. I would even sit and rewrite and repeat to myself the things that I couldn’t memorize to make it stick in my mind. Once I got to college I realized that other people didn’t memorize or study like I did and I realized that I might have a few tips to share.

Repetition

This is a major component to memorization. Whether you repeatedly say something out load, go over the same flashcards, or review the same sections of the study guide over and over, repetition is key. It’s the way to finally drill those last five flashcards that you can’t understand into your mind. It might take a little bit of time to get all of the information into your head, but that time is completely worth it.

Mnemonics

Did you ever have a math teacher in elementary school, middle school, or even high school use PEMDAS with you? You know, parenthesis, exponents, multiply, divide, add, and subtract? That is a mnemonic. In elementary school I remember always struggling with memorization and getting so frustrated trying to remember everything for my science tests, then my mom heard me recite PEMDAS off to my brother as he struggled through his math homework and she knew there had to be a way to incorporate that into my studying. So obviously, mnemonics is something I have used and that has been useful for me for a while. If there is a series of something that I need to memorize, I always try to come up with something crazy or silly that I will for sure remember. In fact, after I get my tests I often quickly scribble my sentence in the corner just in case. I’ve even had professors comment on liking my use of study tools.

Memorize in small chunks

I’m a big believer in using flashcards for memorization since that is the method that works best for me. If I’m sitting down with a new set of flashcards to study I will often pull 5 of the flashcards and go over those over and over until I feel I know it. Then I move onto the next 5 and so on. Occasionally I will go back through the stack of flashcards I’ve already gone over just for more review. Memorization is always more successful when it’s done in small chunks.

Say and repeat things out loud

I purposely reserve study room or study in my apartment just so I can read things out loud. If I am just starting to review something or am having a hard time remembering something, I say it outload several times. Studies have actually proven that saying things outload actually improves your memorization skills because you are using more than one sense. For me, I’ve definitely found that to be true so you should try it out too.

Focus on key phrases

In college, especially upper level courses, it always seems like you get long, drawn out definitions. Personally, those always seem to get jumbled in my mind since typically two or three are very similar despite two words flip flopped. Now, instead of trying to memorize all of it I simply focus on the key words. Typically I will go through and high light the key words in my notes, flash cards, or study guide and I am good to go.

Do you memorize for tests? What tips do you use from this list? Are there any tips you would add to this list? If you needed to brush up on your memorization skills, what tips would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

I’m the first to admit that I struggle with managing my stress during an exam. Do I really know the material? This test is worth 45% of my grade, will I pass? Why does it sound like the girl next to me is talking about a different subject entirely when mentioning what she studied? Did I remember my calculator? Wait…was section 2 supposed to be on this test? While all of that just covers my pre-exam jitters, I’ve finally found the best ways for me to manage exam stress. Today, I’m sharing with you how I’m kicking exam stress.

Don’t think about how others are doing on the exam.

My biggest weakness before taking an exam was always listening into classmate’s discussions about what they had studied. Typically, it just led to me questioning if I had studied the right information and truly knew the material that was being covered, which only meant that I would panic. Then when you open your exam, don’t concentrate on how that person is doing on the exam. Who knows, they could just talk the talk and not really know the information. But no matter what they know, how they are doing on the exam doesn’t matter. The only thing you need to be thinking about during your test is your test.

Breathe. Take a deep breath.

I hope I’m not the only one that has the horrible habit of holding my breath when I open my exam and read through it. Heck, I even hold my breath when working out a problem. It’s a horrible habit and I’m still working towards overcoming it, but I’ve made progress in the fact that now I know it’s okay to stop every once and a while and take a moment to remind myself to breath. Just by implementing this tip I feel my stress level go down. My shoulders relax, the knot in my chest goes away, and my mind clears up. It’s been a wonderful thing for me to learn and I’m sure it will be a great one for you as well.

Read through the exam.

As soon as your professor gives you permission to begin your exam, open it up and read through it. Read the questions, skim through the answers, and know what portions the exam covers. Once you’ve read through it, take a deep breath and start. If you end up with extra time at the end of your exam, read through your exam again only this time go over your answers. If I’m reading over my math tests I always review my work and recalculate answers so I know I’ve done it right. On tests that use a scantron I read through the test and make sure my answers match up, double check that all of the circles are all the way filled in, and then see if I erased everything fully if I messed up on an answer.

Do the problems you know first.

For some reason during my freshman year of college it got into my mind that I had to go through a test from front cover to back cover without going back to any problems later on. That method only made me more anxious if I didn’t know how to do it right off the top of my head because I had to dwell on it. Finally, I learned that it’s completely okay to skip around your test. By doing this I get a confidence boost by knowing I did well on the topics I was strong in and can go back to questions I skipped with equal confidence because I didn’t dwell on them for too long feeling like I messed something up.

Don’t rush.

I’ve always been worried about messing up on timing during a test and feared that I won’t have enough time to do everything so I rush through it. I’m still working on this one and always have to remind myself to slow down. In fact, I often write “slow down!” at the top of each page of my test because I need the visual reminder. Seeing that written on the top of my page definitely helps me to slow down and concentrate on taking my time on problems.

Ask for a clock to be running if you need it.

Asking for a clock or timer to be projected onto the board is never a bad thing. Many people get anxious thinking that they will take too much time on several problems and not have enough time to complete their exam. Having a clock that is visible is a major tool in helping you manage your time and essentially schedule how you will complete problems as needed.

Have all of your test taking materials ready to go.

Something that causes me anxiety going into a test is if I have all of the materials needed to do my test. If it’s a math test, then I always have to double check that I have at least two pencils, an eraser, my calculator, and my formula book. It might seem like something silly to stress over before a test, I always double check to make sure everything is in my backpack so it’s ready for test day.

How do you manage stress during an exam? Are you planning to use any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

My sophomore year of college was a defining year to say the least. I made it through mono, got accepted into the business school, got my first rejection letter from an organization I interviewed for, dropped my sorority, had a new job, watched several of my friends graduate, and defined more about what I want to do after college. While none of these things are a big deal, a lot of emotion came with some of them and sometimes I wished maybe there was someone there to prep me for some of this stuff. While no one’s sophomore year will be exactly the same as mine (I wouldn’t wish mono on my worst enemy) I hope maybe some of these tips resonate with you guys whether you are going into your sophomore year or not.

17 Things I Learned my Sophomore Year of College

Decide what is best for you and do it

The summer before my sophomore year I made the decision to drop my sorority. I had absolutely nothing against the girls or anything against the sorority really, it just simply wasn’t for me. I couldn’t picture myself living in a room with 5 other girls, participating in weekly chapter meetings through my senior year, learning chants for formal rush, and being asked to give so much of my time when I wanted to put my time to other use. My one year in sorority was great, but simply wasn’t something that I wanted to continue in. I had to do what was best for me and ended up dropping the summer before my sophomore year. I still see the girls from my chapter all over campus and love catching up with them. They have been super supportive of my decision and have all enjoyed hearing about my involvement in other things on campus as well.

It’s never too late to join new organization or committees

A senior in college told me at the beginning of my sophomore year that it’s never too late to pursue a new committee or organization. Sometimes opportunities come up to be a liaison for the Women’s Leadership Conference or a new organization is starting up and gives you the opportunity to be a leader. It doesn’t matter if you are entering your sophomore year, you can still find new organizations to join. Not everything has to be figured out during your freshman year.

Make time for your friends, even if it gets in the way of school work sometimes

Second semester I ended up with a job that was semi demanding. I worked most evenings and weekends and even had to do on-call shifts. If I wasn’t working then typically I was working on school work to get caught back up and I definitely let several friendships go to the backburner. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would realize that sometimes nourishing your friendships comes before school work. There are several friends that I will be apologizing to and that I need to make amends with after being a horrible friend this last semester.

Things don’t always go as planned

My senior year of high school I had it all planned out. I was going to rush a sorority and be super involved in it until graduation, live in the dorms freshman year, live in the sorority house my second year, RA the third year, and live on my own the last year. So far the only things that have gone as planned are living in the dorms and living on my own. And I’m okay with that. In college I’ve discovered organizations and things to be involved in that weren’t even on my radar my senior year of high school. I wouldn’t change the direction my college experience has gone for a thing.

Start networking. Now.

It was easy for me to get into the mindset that I was a sophomore and still technically had 3 years to network. Little did I know, getting on multiple company’s radars as soon as possible is only in your benefit. You don’t want to find your way to the business fair your second semester of senior year only to realize you don’t know how to sell yourself to a potential employer. Go to the job fair now so that you learn from your mistakes before you are in a crunch to find a job. While making mistakes might be something you give yourself a hard time about, you at least know what to improve on for next time.

Just keep trying and working

Saying that the math and economics classes that my marketing major requires has killed me is an understatement. I’ve never had to work so hard in a class to barely be able to scrape by with a B or B+. I’ve failed tests, I’ve completely aced tests, I’ve miserably failed tests, but I still managed to keep my head up. I knew that I just had to keep trying and keep working because the end of the class was in sight. If you are anything like me, it gets to the point where you are counting down the weeks and days until you are finally done with stats.

Learn to budget and how to stick to it

The number of people that have told me they just kind of wing their budget make me cringe. You realize that the tall caramel macchiato everyday adds up to over $140 a month right? While if you’ve personally budgeted for that it’s completely fine, but if that comes as a surprise to you maybe it’s time to track your spending a little more closely. You can definitely still budget for fun things like Starbucks and Noodles, but do it knowing you can still pay for your rent, utilities, and gas for your car.

You can’t do everything

At my university there are over 700 organizations to choose from. 700. It’s not uncommon to run into people who think that they can juggle seven very demanding organizations at once. While it might be something some people can manage, it can wear down even the most Type-A people out there. Know that you need to have time for yourself and time for your friends. While there will be busy times in life (hello 3 tests in one day), at least have a schedule that will allow for a little down time after the busy has subsided.

Don’t do something just to add it to your resume

This kind of feeds off of the point above, but you should never join something just because it could potentially look good on your resume in the future. If it’s an organization that you love and have passion for, absolutely go for it and do it. But if you are dragging your feet to go to organization meetings and find yourself making tomorrow’s to-do list during the Monday night meeting, it might be something you need to drop. It simply isn’t worth sticking with things if you aren’t enjoying it.

Buy the Nemo and Dory pencil case

It doesn’t even have to be Nemo and Dory and it doesn’t even need to be a pencil case. Maybe it’s a lunchbox, a pencil pack, or even a backpack. Whatever it is, even if it has characters, buy it. I felt like a kid in a candy store when my mom took me to Target to buy school supplies and I spotted the Nemo and Dory pencil pouches. I honestly walked out with both pouches and at the time of writing this I am almost 21 years old. It’s the last time in life that we can have fun school supplies because I can almost guarantee that (sadly) Nemo won’t be office appropriate.

Start building your professional wardrobe

Maybe I’m the only person who has been watching how business women dress since the age of 5, but I excitedly jumped into the opportunity of buying professional pieces when the occasion came up. I’ve bought my 3 piece suit, I have three different colors of pants, I have another fun jacket, I’ve bought several blouses, I have a few button ups, I have some nice pencil skirts, and I’ve bought a few basic shells to wear under a blazer. Don’t even get me started on the shoes that I’ve purchased to go with my clothes. While there is much more expanding that I can do, as a college student I have myself set at the moment.

A rejection letter isn’t the end of the world

In the fall I interviewed to join a business fraternity. I was sure that I was a shoe-in so I only interviewed for one fraternity. I definitely messed up with that decision and got a rejection letter a few days after my interview. I had never really gotten a true rejection letter before that unless you count the retail stores that never called me since I was too young to work at them freshman year of high school. The letter got to me and I ended up not even interviewing for it my second semester. I completely regret that and plan to interview for several business fraternities my first semester of junior year.

Introduce yourself to your core professors

I go to a fairly large university and by fairly large I mean it’s not uncommon to have multiple 500 person lecture classes. In classes that large, it’s pretty hard for your professor to know you by name. Once you’ve been accepted into your program and finally get to take more classes geared towards your major you will notice that you have several of the same professors over and over again. This is your chance to introduce yourself so that you have someone to go to should anything come up. Say you need a recommendation from a professor. Who will you go to if none of your professors know who you are?

It’s okay to change your major

Towards the beginning of my sophomore year I listened as one of my friends told me that she felt she had chosen the completely wrong major for herself. She felt stuck and like there was no going back since she had already made it a year in. In all honesty, she wasn’t stuck. There was plenty of opportunity for her to be able to go back and rethink what she wanted to do, especially with a year of experience under her belt. Personally, I think it might have been the perfect time for her to make that decision considering she had been able to spend a whole year at college and experience different classes and figure out what she wanted to do.

Going out doesn’t have to define you, but still go out and have fun

This point on the post might highlight the fact that I go to a major party school, but just work with me here. A lot of people only see you as a “dedicated party person” when they see you out at the bars Monday-Thursday with Friday-Saturday nights just being considered “regular”. Personally, I have way too much going on to be able to go out on a true school night, but I do look forward to going out on Friday and Saturday nights since I will finally be 21 at the beginning of my junior year.

Use a planner

During my second semester of sophomore year one of the boys didn’t use a planner at all. He would simply roam the hallway looking for someone in that stats class to keep him up to date on when the homework was due, when the tests were, and when quizzes would be. He honestly didn’t know that a test was going to happen until the day of the test. While not everyone who doesn’t use a planner will be as disorganized as this boy, it does go to show how much you may not know about. It wouldn’t be one of my blog posts if I didn’t stress getting a planner and using it.

Consider becoming an RA

While I’ve never been an RA on a college campus, I was a community assistant at my apartment complex off campus. While my community assistant job was nowhere near as demanding as the job of a RA, it was a very good job for me to have. It taught me how to work on the fly for things that I am not trained on and to appreciate a normal 9-5 job because I served on-call shifts which meant I could get a phone call anywhere between 8pm and 9am.

So I’m curious, what did you learn this previous year from college? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

No matter what year of college you are entering, the first week of school can be a bit stressful. Between getting settled into a new routine and catching up with friends you haven’t seen all summer it’s a lot to handle. Today I’m hoping to give you some tips that will make it seem like you have all you ish together, even if technically you don’t.

how to make the most of your first week of college

Introduce yourself to all of your professors-even if it means going to their office hours

If you take anything away from this point, let it be this point. Hands down the most important thing to do during your first week of classes is introduce yourself to all of your professors and even TA’s. If I have the time between classes I always go up to my professor after class and introduce myself, say where I am from, what my major is, what year I am, and conclude with a ‘it was nice to meet you!’. If I don’t have the time to go up to a professor after class I make the effort to go to their office hours that week to quickly introduce myself just as I would after class. In two years of college I’ve only had one instance in which I was unable to introduce myself after class and during their office hours because of a conflict with a class, so I sent the professor an e-mail. I explained that I had to run to a different class after theirs and that I had classes during their office hours. After doing so, this professor recognized me in class (always use your Linked-In headshot as your school e-mail photo!) and told me how impressed he was that I made the effort to reach out to him.

Order your textbooks

Your first week of school you should have a feel for if your professor actually will have you using the book that they put on the syllabus. Once you know which books you need, order them from somewhere like Chegg or even a local textbook resell store. If you ordered your textbooks through the school book store, make sure to return any books you don’t need the first week of school or else you my risk not getting your money back.

Pull together you planner

The first week of school I always sit down with my syllabi and write all reading, homework due dates, and test dates into my planner. I personally always write due dates into the weekly and monthly pages of my planner because I always refer to both when planning my weeks.

Organize your school supplies

I might be the only one who gets excited about new highlighters and pens, but you have to admit having highlighters that actually highlight is pretty nice. The first week of school I sit down and label my notebooks and folders with what classes I will be using them for, switch out my pens and pencils, and put my syllabi and any handouts I have into my folders.

Develop your routines

With a new semester comes new routines. While I understand that in college you don’t have a set schedule every day like in high school, at least know what you plan to do during your morning routine. For me, my mornings consist of waking up to my alarm, turning on the coffee maker, washing my face, making my coffee, doing my make-up, doing my hair, brushing my teeth, and then getting dressed. If I have the time on Tuesdays and Thursdays I hit the gym at my apartment complex before class and on Monday and Wednesday I go to work-out classes at my universities gym. I do this exact thing for my night routine and even for a daily blog maintenance routine.

Go to the free classes at the gym

If your gym is anything like mine the workout classes are free the first week of classes. This is the perfect time to try out new classes and figure out what class times work best with your schedule. Free week at my university’s gym is how I figured out that I like to go and work out right after my classes are done so that I can have a mental break and cross more than going to class off my to-do list when I’m on campus.

Write out a schedule of tutoring and office hours in your planner

Hands down this is the best thing that I picked up on during my sophomore year of college. Surprisingly enough I figured it out when I was creeping on a girl in the student center and told her that her planner was cute and spotted what she was writing. She told me that she was making a schedule of when her professors and TA’s where available for office hours and when the tutoring center offered help for her classes. She went on to tell me that you should even write down the times that overlap when you have class because sometimes if class is cancelled you can swing by for extra help in another class. Aside from the monthly few sections of my planner, this page became one of the most referred to pages in my planner.

Look into new organizations

Since it’s the first week of school there are all kinds of involvement parties where you can visit the student center and get fliers for organizations all over campus. It’s the perfect way to find organizations both in your major and outside of your major.

Walk your classes

As “freshman” as this sounds, walk your classes. Especially if you are on a bigger campus you want to know where you are going for your classes because the 10 minute recess between classes can be a bit tight. Even if you know where the buildings are, walk to them and find the room where your class is. This upcoming semester all of my classes are in the same building, but I haven’t been in this building very much before. I’ve taken the time already to walk the building and find where my classes are and I’m definitely glad I did! One of the lecture rooms took me 10 minutes to find because it was completely hidden.

Introduce yourself to your RA’s

If you are still in the dorms, take the time to introduce yourself to your RA’s. No matter what year you are, your RA’s can come to your rescue a lot more than you might think. Even if it’s just a brief hello, reach out to them and at least know their names!

What do you do to make your first week of classes go smoothly? Are there any tips that I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

To say the least, living in the dorms was an interesting experience for me. From community bathrooms to not having a good roommate experience, I was eagerly waiting for the opportunity to venture off campus. I wanted to wake up to carpet under my feet instead of tile, have a kitchen area not shared with 300 other residents, have my own room, and not have to share a bathroom with all of the girls on my floor, just to name a few. Aside from a few of the basics that I wanted to have in my future living arrangement, it was definitely a big decision that required a lot of thought. Did I want to rent out a house or apartment? What about a duplex? How close to the school did I want to be? Did I want to live with roommates or be on my own? Did I want a complex that catered to college students or not? Today, I’m hoping to give you my advice based off of what I learned from going through my apartment search. Just be sure to remember, I’m definitely not an expert and you should always ask the leasing assistants at the apartment complexes you look at if you want specification on how things work at their property. I wrote this post based off of how I noticed complexes where in my area.

The College Girl's Guide to Renting

Money Saving Options

Fun fact: sometimes apartment complexes offer deals if you sign during prime leasing season on a particular kind of unit. This ‘deal’ could range from waiving your service fee, giving out gift cards, allowing you to move-in earlier, giving you prizes, and more. It’s amazing how much the little fees can add up when you are signing your lease and any kind of fee that you can have waived or any prize that you can get is a bonus worth taking. I highly recommend that if you go to look at places to rent you ask if they are currently running any specials. But just remember, if you waited until the last minute to sign, sometimes it’s not worth waiting for an upcoming deal/special because you might miss out on getting the unit you wanted.

Rent vs. Installments

An interesting thing that I learned is that some complexes have you pay monthly rent and some complexes have you pay monthly installments. Monthly rent is a bit different because at the complexes discernment they can raise your monthly rent payments, but with an installment you are typically paying off a lump sum that can’t be changed. When you look at apartments, ask whether they do rent or installments and be sure to mention that you want to know if you monthly payment can be changed month to month. It definitely can make a difference if they have the ability to raise your rent, so it’s something you want to know about before you sign the lease.

Move-in/Move-out Dates

A typical lease runs January-December for one year, but in my college town it’s common that the complexes run from August 15th-July 31st. Some places occasionally allow you to sign a lease starting on the first of any month and ending a year later. Always be sure to know how long the lease goes because you don’t want to find yourself trying to move and find a new place to live during fall semester finals.

Distance from Campus

When I looked for apartments my second semester of freshman year, I wanted to be as far away from campus as possible. I had lived in a dorm that was basically in Greek town and it wasn’t uncommon to hear music blaring outside until 4am and all day if it was nice outside. Scarred from that experience, I had figured that the further from campus, the quieter it would be. Definitely not the case. As long as you are off campus and not in areas where there are a lot of bars (which in my town is downtown), then you should get peace and quiet. If you want the bars to be right across the street from you, then go ahead. I just wouldn’t handle the noise well if I was trying to get some rest.

Live on Your Own/With Roommates

As I’ve mentioned a little before, I definitely did not have a good roommate experience and because of that I was determined to find a one bedroom apartment. But maybe you had a different experience. Maybe you know that you want to be able to go into the living room and hang out with your roommates and then go to your room for some time to yourself or maybe you are like me and when you get back from a long day on campus and at work you just want some time to yourself to relax and get some work done. And remember, if living on your own or with roommates for one year doesn’t work for you, you can always try to move to a different kind of unit the next leasing period.

Apartment/Duplex/House/Etc.

Where you want to live can make a big difference. Whether you want to rent out an apartment, duplex, or house it’s all up to you. I have a friend that wanted to rent a duplex simply because she knew she would have a garage to park her car and store her bike and Christmas décor, but for me the simple parking structure cover outside of my apartment building was fine by me. If you are trying to decide what kind of unit you want to live in, call different complexes that you have found and schedule a tour so that way you have an idea of whether you want an apartment/house/duplex.

Amenities that are Important to You

In my large college town, it’s not uncommon for the complexes further than a 10 minute walk from campus to offer a shuttle service that goes to and from the complex to your university. They will also typically offer a computer lab with free printing and will host events to benefit students. Take into consideration if you want these kinds of amenities or if you are the kind of person that just wants a pool and gym area at your complex. Another amenity to ask about is whether or not your unit will have a porch or outdoor area that you have access to.

Ask what is allowed and what’s not

When you actually take the time to read the lease when you sign, you might be surprised to read what you are allowed to have and what you aren’t allowed to have. Some complexes very strictly don’t allow pets, multiple guests to stay over at once, grills, candles, and other things that you might have thought you could have. While many people are willing to “risk it” and try to get past these things any ways, there is often a huge fine for doing so. Even if you have read the lease, be sure to ask the leasing assistant at the complex what you are and are not allowed to have on the property and if there is anything you are required to purchase for the unity, as I’ve heard of several places that require people to buy their own fire extinguishers, furniture pieces, light bulbs, etc.

Safety Features at the Complex

Safety should be taken into consideration no matter where you live. Make sure that the building you live in is well lit along with the parking lot, ask if there are security systems for the rooms (typically this is only in houses or duplexes), ask how the keys work for the main door to enter your apartment, and know who to contact if you feel uncomfortable. A lot of the complexes in my area actually have a policeman that lives on campus for you to contact if you were to ever feel unsafe on the property, but that is just in my specific area.

If you have made the venture off of campus, what kind of living option did you chose and how did it work out for you? Is there anything you would have done differently or that you would add to this list? And if you haven’t made the venture off of campus, what are you hoping to find in where you chose to live? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!