How to step up your studying game

Kore Chan/Senior Staff

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Dear incoming students,

The Daily Californian commissioned me to come up with a few study pointers to help you acclimate. I’m here to assure you that you can reach your full potential, even as you transition into the exciting new world of psychology readers and Top Ramen. Out of a desire to be as clear and concise as possible, and not at all due to laziness, I made the artistic decision to convey my wisdom in bullet form. So here goes:

  • Notes matter. Don’t expect your bush-league high school marginalia to cut it this time. Sure, some of the knowledge you gained will carry over. A few teachers may have advised you that “notes should be detailed, but not too detailed, you know?” And they would be correct. But always remember that there’s so much more to life.
  • Good content doesn’t always translate into good notes. Pretty soon, you high-minded idealists — bless your freshman souls — are going to realize that appearances do matter. How you write is a reflection of who you are. Sure, you could take your laptop to class, but personally, my aesthetic is not — and never will be — Mark Zuckerberg. If you feel the same but lack confidence in your note taking, fear not! I have generously devoted precious hours getting not-paid to help others improve their skills. Follow these simple tips for a semester of stylistic and scholastic success:
    • Get it right, get it bright. Consistency is the key to an appealing color balance. Bring a medley pack of highlighters to your lectures, and make sure all colors are represented — in rainbow or reverse-rainbow order — through a steady and equitable rotation.
    • Pick your pens! Buy in bulk and afford them all the loyalty they deserve. If you start off with a pack of blue BIC Cristals (lol, basics), for the love of God, wait until the semester ends before trying to reinvent your hipster asses with a black Speedball (and no, not that kind of speedball). Re: blue versus black ink, the only insight I will offer is that it’s tacky to switch sides.
    • Penmanship: Try, but don’t look like you’re trying. Nobody likes a try-hard. And no one likes that gingham-clad Zooey Deschanel type who still rocks her third-grade cursive (no hard feelings, Zooey! Love you). So make sure your penmanship matches the image you want to project. If you think of yourself as a bit of an eccentric intellectual, first of all, you’re probably delusional. Secondly, I’m envisioning a freer, more forward-leaning look for you. Try doctor’s signature meets coherent lettering. By contrast, a Type A Virgo neat freak might draw inspiration from simple fonts such as Arial and Verdana, etc. Just be yourself!*
      *One exception: If you have no clue about an essay question on your exam, adopt a Webdings-inspired look that will confuse your GSI.
    • Everything else. In a turn of events that will almost certainly become familiar to you when midterm season comes around, I have now used the majority of my time and available word count on one subject. I’m going to have to go ahead and slack in all others. Let this serve as your warning.
      • Study groups: Are you a generally social person who derives pleasure from witty conversation and the company of others? Is your study group full of fun people? Are you romantically involved or wish to be romantically involved with anyone in it? If you answered “yes” to any of the previous, you’ll probably get nothing done. But good luck with that special someone!
  • Study breaks: BuzzFeed quizzes allow us to step back for a moment and explore who we are and where we stand in this crazy world of ours. It’s so necessary to stay grounded in stressful times.
    • Exam prep: Use flashcards, or force friends to quiz you. (Warning: See “study groups” section above.)
    • Essays: If you start any sentence with “in conclusion,” “thusly” or “throughout human civilization, it has become evident that …,” you need to calm down.
    • Procrastination: Don’t. Unless you thought this article was good, in which case, wow, thank you. That means so much. Follow me on Twitter?

That’s about all I can offer at this point. The rest is up to you. Godspeed.

Don’t mess up,


Contact Grace Culhane at [email protected].