The Ultimate Guide to a Successful First Year: Part II

We live in what can seem like a stressful and competitive world. The tendency is to work hard and play harder, or to burn the candle at both ends until you’re exhausted and can’t do either. Sometimes it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to do the things we need to do, let alone the things we want to do.

This post is part two of a post in which I share what I have found to be methods to help first-year college students like me have a productive and enjoyable experience…

(You can find Part I of my Ultimate Guide here.)


Even homes is putting some hours in - but is he doing it right?

Let’s be honest: Every college student dreads studying. I can’t think of one person who doesn’t despise the hours spent in the library, taking notes and staring at pages until our eyes glaze over.

More than being prepared for a test, success in life is defined by knowledge, and you will never be able to hold an intellectual conversation without a base of appropriate information.

The most effective way to keep the information locked within your conscience is to study. Here are my top four ways to engage with information while studying…

1. Chunk it. Over-studying leads to loss of information and makes the whole learning experience excruciating. Instead of studying for ten hours without resting, break your study time into little chunks separated by breaks to grab a snack, go for a walk, or take a short nap.

2. Reward yourself. Wouldn’t the system be so much better if after every completed assignment or paragraph of reading, you rewarded yourself with a gummy bear? Guess what? It can be done. Establish a system in which you give yourself something you enjoy after chunks of work- or study-related activities.

3. Talk it out. If you can repeat the content in your own words aloud, you got it. You can read complicated sentences about the properties of water in your chemistry book, but you’ll never fully comprehend material unless you can explain it to yourself (and better yet, explain it to others).

4. Quiz yourself. The ultimate method for determining whether or not you understood the information is to attempt to answer questions away from the text book and without the aid of Google. So make study guides, quizzes, or shot assignments and put yourself to a test. This will also help you narrow down what you really don’t know so you can better focus your review strategy.


Search for deeper meanings...

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” —Margaret J. Wheatley

While this concept may seem easy, it is important to recognize the significance of self-reflection. Successful people, individuals who have “won at life,” have found themselves time after time thinking about existence as a whole, attempting to understand their mission, discover deeper meanings, uncover the hidden messages of life.

Reflection is personal. It is almost spiritual. Throughout years of hard work and stress accumulation, you may find yourself stuck. Reflection often helps us to discover a way out.

Rethink the life you’re living and figure out ways to make it better both for yourself and for everyone around you.

Find a mentor

Find a mentorYour journey to success will be bumpy, I can pretty much guarantee it. Some chapters may leave you feeling helpless and fearful of what the future may hold.

Don’t worry! Help is on the way—or at least you may be on your way to find help…
In order to ensure success for your search, find a mentor, someone to talk to, to bounce your ideas off of, who will give you honest and informed feedback.And keep in mind we don’t know everything. We’re not expected to. Lucky for me and you, we are new at this college thing, and people know it.

That is why I encourage you to take advantage of opportunities to ask others who have been here before or who are experts in their field for their help, their opinion, and their recommendations regarding your potential plans, academic and social. And at Loyola, most people—from faculty to academic advisors to your fellow students—WANT to see you succeed.

Of course, the tactics I have written about in my Ultimate Guide are not absolute. 

You should examine your own life and your work, what you’re currently doing and if it’s working, and what you want to do more or less of, and figure out ways to make it better.

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