As summer classes began, I found myself suddenly swamped with lectures to keep up with and assignments to complete. After a relaxing month break from schoolwork, it was tricky to get back into “study mode.” With so much material to learn, half the time of a regular semester and other parts of life to juggle, summer classes can be tough. If you’re panicking, do not fret! Whether you’re coming out of a long break from classes or just feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips on how you can maximize your time and academic efficiency.
Start your day with exercise
Get up, get dressed and get moving the minute your feet hit the floor. Go for a short 15-minute walk, a light jog or even half an hour of low-intensity cardio! Getting your heart rate up and blood pumping throughout your body provides an awesome energy boost — perfect for a day of productivity. Working out first thing in the morning can be rough, especially if you’ve only just managed to get out of bed. However, your workout doesn’t need to be intense. I’ve found that simply getting some fresh air outside can do wonders for my energy levels. Pro tip: Immediately roll out of bed the second your eyes open, so you don’t sleep in!
Declutter and rearrange your room or workspace
If you’ve had the same room, desk or workspace arrangement for the past couple of months during the shelter-in-place order, switch it up! Clear out unnecessary clutter, move your desk somewhere with more natural lighting or even rearrange your space completely. Rearranging the area you work in can refresh your sense of productivity, especially if you’re still in vacation mode. Check out some nifty ways to change up your room here!
Take advantage of Zoom office hours
If your GSIs and professors happen to hold Zoom office hours, attend them! Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, connect with your instructors and learn from your peers. With the fast-paced nature of summer classes in addition to them being online from start to finish, it’s easy to feel very alone in your classes — and it’s OK! Attending office hours is a great way to remember that you still have a supportive learning community, even if it’s virtual.
Create a Slack channel for your classes
When you don’t get to interact with classmates face to face, it can be difficult to find study buddies — seek help from your peers and get to know your fellow pupils. To facilitate a more collaborative learning experience, create a Slack channel for the class and share the link with your peers through bCourses! This provides an easygoing, yet work-oriented space that lets students ask questions and help each other out — it’s a win-win.
Make study sheets right after lecture
This one’s a helpful tip to consider, especially if your class is heavy on memorization. Make summary sheets of the day’s lecture right after class, when the material is still fresh in your mind. This allows you to solidify your knowledge and is a great investment for long-term studying. In making daily study sheets, you’ll save yourself more time for reviewing when the final exam comes around.
Create daily and weekly to-do lists
And last, but not least: Make to-do lists! As a lover of to-do lists, I’ve found them instrumental in helping me stay organized and getting things done. Make weekly to-do lists at the start of each week, and one for each day the night before. This way, you can better plan your time and you’ll know exactly what you need to do each day. Plus, who doesn’t love the satisfaction of crossing off tasks on a list?
To all my fellow Bears struggling through online classes this summer, I feel you! Even though we’ve had half a semester to adjust to online learning, doing so in the summer can still be difficult. While these tips are by no means comprehensive, they’re a good place to start — they’ve definitely helped me transition back into school mode. And, who knows? Maybe you’ll develop your own set of summer learning hacks. Good luck, and happy learning!