Tag Archives: studying

Senior year vs. freshman year

As I’m typing this, I have less than 50 days until graduation. I’ve been reflecting on my time here at Radford University and noticing many things have changed since that first year. College is a time of extreme growth and experiencing as much as possible, so no one leaves the same person they came in as.

What has changed between being a freshman and being a senior? Graphic by Katie Gibson
What has changed between being a freshman and being a senior? Graphic by Katie Gibson
  1. My style

When I was in high school, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing wet hair to school. Now, it makes an almost daily appearance. Along with rocking wet hair, my sense of fashion has sort of devolved. Although I lived on campus as a freshman, I would still get up no less than an hour before my class and make myself look presentable by wearing nice jeans and just trying to look human as possible. Nowadays, however, it’s nothing to throw on leggings and a big hoodie (with no bra, mind you) and run to class just minutes after awaking from my slumber.

Going out has also become much easier. As a freshman, my suite-mates and I would spend hours doing our hair and makeup and picking out outfits. We often wore high heels and short skirts out.

Now, I dress for comfort, not for looks. If I go out to a party in the winter, I’m bundling up. I once would freeze the most unmentionable parts of my body just to look cute. Now, I’ll throw on some leggings and a sweater and a quick face of makeup and head out the door.

High heels very rarely make an appearance these days.

  1. My sense of humor

As a freshman, being late to class was no laughing matter. Doing poorly on a test was completely unacceptable and I spent many nights crying into my homework. Now, when I walk into class lateI just smile at the professor and say, “sorry.” I’ve also trained myself to just laugh when I don’t get the test score I wanted, as opposed to crying about it. In college, you experience a lot of disappointment, and if you can’t laugh at it from time to time, you’ll fall apart.

After an embarrassing weekend of shenanigans, as a freshman I would spend all week awkwardly avoiding eye contact with the people I encountered throughout the weekend. Now, I just laugh at myself and move on. Sometimes that’s much easier than wallowing in self-pity.

  1. My study habits

One of the biggest accomplishments I’ve reached as a senior is finally learning how to study for my tests. It’s only taken roughly 17 years of schooling for me to finally find a way to study that actually resonates in my mind.

As a freshman, I would use hundreds of index cards and painstakingly mark each one with it’s appropriate definition or explanation. Now, I create my own study guides out of my notes. Not only does this save a lot of time, it also saves paper and my fingers from those sharp edges on note cards.

  1. My sleep schedule

This one is probably very obvious. College students don’t get nearly enough sleep, and sometimes it’s worth it. Between long weeknights spent in the library and long weekends with no rest, we have some of the worst sleep schedules on the planet.

As a freshman, I tried my best to get those 8 hours of sleep. Now, if I get more than 5 hours of sleep, it’s a good day. Running on little sleep can be exhausting but it’s rewarding once you realized that less sleep either means better grades or nights full of fun with your best friends.

  1. Formalities

Formalities become casualties by the time you’re a senior. What were once delicately put together emails with perfect punctuation are now brief sentences with little to no punctuation sent to my professor.

Having the title “professor” or “doctor” is intimidating at first, so you often feel like you have to be very formal when addressing your professors. But by your fourth or fifth year, you realize your professors are just people. It’s especially easy if your professor is younger or a graduate student. Even older professors who have been teaching for decades are really just people going to work, and will often work with you in ways you never thought possible.

One professor I had called me into her office one day over an issue I had with a project. I knew I was in trouble, as I had failed to make it to an important meeting. Although my professor was visibly irritated with me, she really just wanted to help me.

Your professors want what’s best for you. Although some professors seem to love to fail students, most of the time they want to be your friend and want to help you understand what you’re studying.

  1. Values

When I first came to school, I had never done any kind of drugs and I had only been drunk once, and I went into college not expecting that to change. I also came in as a Christian and am leaving as an Agnostic. Being sober and religious was the center of every decision I made coming into college. Now, I know that just because there are rules against something doesn’t make it bad.

Having fun with your friends isn’t a bad thing, even if it’s under the influence of alcohol. My religious beliefs once made me feel that to enjoy and partake in all the things around me was vain. I felt guilty going out and drinking cheap beer at parties, even though I wasn’t hurting myself or anyone around me. Now, that I’ve experienced the “Cannabis Culture” of Colorado, and found that I have a love for beer, I realize that enjoying these things isn’t bad. To live life wishing you had tried new things and regretting not living your life to the fullest, however, is bad.


College can be scary at times, but you grow so much in such a short amount of time. Along with what you learn in lectures and labs, you gain so much life experience that teaches you valuable lessons that can’t be found anywhere else. Enjoy and absorb every moment, but know you’re going to survive and you’ll be better for it.


Radford survival guide: finals

Finals are slowly creeping up on us, although that reality hasn’t set in for most of us. Right now it’s the calm before the storm– so before the storm hits, you need to be prepared.

Your Guide to surviving Finals. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Your Guide to surviving Finals. Graphic by Katie Gibson

The first piece of advice I’d give you is to get plenty of sleep. It’s easy to go into panic mode and pull an all-nighter the night before a final, but this should never be a weekly practice. You don’t study as well, and you definitely won’t perform as well on an exam when you’re exhausted. Make sure you’re getting a decent amount of sleep so that you can be sharp and relaxed, even if you do have to cram.

Stress-eating becomes a lifestyle during finals week. Going through the drive-thru is a lot easier and takes much less time than making a healthy meal. However, it may be worth it to take a few minutes to grab a healthier snack. There’s power in healthy food that will help you work efficiently. Drink black coffee instead of sugary, expensive coffee drinks. Plain black coffee has zero calories, but will also keep your mood up and allow you to focus.

This should be common sense, but drinking during finals week is a horrible idea. No matter how stressed out you get, I promise there isn’t an “A” at the bottom of that bag of Franzia. Take time out of your studying to relax and watch a movie on Netflix. Find productive ways to take a study break, such as working your stress out at the gym or making a craft or two. Do anything to keep the urge to throw down that twelve-pack.

Arguably, the biggest piece of advice I received in University 100 is to study a little every day. Instead of cramming as much information as you can into your brain 30 minutes before your final, study a little every day the few weeks before finals. Ideally, studying a little every night starting at the beginning of the semester is the best thing to do to keep your brain from frying. However, few people have the willpower or discipline to make that work. There’s still time to save your brain before finals!

Finals week is notorious for being the most stressful time of year for college students. Although you may have to drink a swimming pool of coffee to survive, it’s absolutely possible to get by without going all 2007 Britney Spears. Keeping yourself organized and taking care of yourself will allow you to perform efficiently and allow you to pass your exams with flying colors.

Studying: Do’s and don’ts from the experts

As much as we’d like to push stop or fast forward, finals are just around the corner — and we’re careening straight into them. While this may induce stress in some (or a haughty laugh from those who have been preparing all semester), there are always a couple of unfortunate students whose blood runs cold from fear of exams. Continue reading Studying: Do’s and don’ts from the experts

RU fit?

College students are more known for their love of video games and consumption of Ramen noodles than for workouts and salads. The stereotype of a “college kid” is that of a young adult so consumed with either academics or partying that he or she has no time to even think about living healthfully.

While it’s true that one’s schedule can easily fill up with classes, club meetings and homework, it’s unfortunate when students disregard their physical and mental well-being in order to keep up with the hectic pace of college life. Continue reading RU fit?

Music to study to for finals week

With finals looming over college students’ heads, procrastination seems to be commonplace. But when you finally sit down to study for that big exam or write that 10-page paper, you might be surprised to learn that the right playlist can make all the difference.

Instead of sitting down to the music you listen to regularly, try switching it up, and you may be surprised by the results. Most people cringe at the thought of listening to a genre they’re not fond of or familiar with for extended periods of time. But in a studying situation, the right melody can actually help you focus and take your mind away from end of the semester stresses.

Classical music is first on the list. It’s proven to activate both sides of the brain and actually improve learning capacity. Composers like Beethoven and Bach aren’t just artists our grandparents can get down to. The unfamiliar melodies will help take your brain away from other nagging thoughts and help you focus on whatever you’re studying. There aren’t any relevant lyrics to distract you, either. I suggest opening the Pandora page on your computer (you have to make an account but it’s free) and typing in classical for a wide variety of composers and pieces.

Pandora internet radio. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

If the idea of listening to classical music absolutely appalls you (as it does many students), try listening to foreign music. When a soft French or Italian voice sings words you can’t understand, you’re forced to focus on only the background music, which can have a very soothing effect. Languages like French and Italian are also very pretty when spoken or sung aloud, and that can help improve your concentration. Pandora can set you up with a playlist in various languages. Try to avoid some foreign music such as Spanish or Latin music, which tends to be more upbeat and loud and isn’t the environment you want while studying.

If neither of those options appeal to you, jazz music is another good choice. Many people find listening to jazz while studying a good option, because the way the instruments work together is something admired by musicians across the spectrum. Norah Jones and Michael Bublé are included in the jazz category. Some modern artists you’ll find there might surprise you. You can search jazz in Pandora, or you can start searching an artist you already know you like on YouTube and follow the links on the side.

Jazz music. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

Some of my favorite study music includes “Your Hand In Mine,” by Explosions In The Sky, “Dry Ice” by Emmure, or anything instrumental. A lot of times you can look up instrumental versions of your favorite songs and listen to those. The best studying music doesn’t have any lyrics or any loud bass (for example, dubstep would not be a good genre to listen to while trying to write a paper) and is different for everyone. Find what kind of music suits your studying habits and stick with that. It’s sure to make finals week go much smoother.

Explosions In The Sky. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

Open the buildings on weekends for better students!

In the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to be a more diligent student by using my Saturday afternoons to catch up on work. Unfortunately, Radford University doesn’t feel that it’s necessary to open many of its academic buildings on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Young Hall, for instance, is open from 6-10 p.m. on Saturdays, and then it opens for 24 hours a day at 10 p.m. Sunday night and stays open through Friday night. So when I was looking to get some work done at 2 p.m., the Young lab was a no-go.

Young Hall. Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The computer lab in Whitt Hall is also inconveniently unavailable on Saturdays, and this lab is the only lab that has the software necessary for many business and economics majors to get their work done. My question is, what message do these policies send to RU students?

I feel like not having these buildings available is like telling the students that they should procrastinate. It’s almost like saying, “All you’re doing is recovering from last night, drinking and partying today, so it isn’t worth the money or effort to keep these buildings open.”

I think the university should cater more to the academically diligent students than to those who choose to procrastinate. Why can I do my work at 4 a.m. on Monday morning but not at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon? I feel like it’s a really backward way of thinking and that this type of thinking is what is going to keep RU’s reputation from improving.

Where do you study? Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

I think the university should be doing everything it can to make it easier and more convenient for students to study and work; after all, that is why we’re here. I honestly don’t think it would hurt anyone to keep these buildings open, but I do think it is hurting students by keeping them closed.

Yes, we could go to the library, but the library computers get crowded very easily, they don’t always have the necessary computer software and resources, and sometimes the library is a difficult place to concentrate.

RU spent a lot of money renovating Young Hall, fitting it with the latest and most technologically advanced amenities and designing multiple study areas throughout the building for students to utilize, and yet they are completely unavailable during the weekend except when everyone is cramming for finals at the end of each semester. Again, this is totally sending the wrong message. Our professors expect us to study and review for their tests weeks in advance, and many of us have plenty of free time on the weekends, but the areas that are most conducive to studying on campus are unavailable to us.

Even the four hours that Young Hall is open are very inconvenient. Great, right when I’m trying to have dinner and catch up with my friends, that’s exactly when I want to be studying.

I think that if these buildings were open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons they would get used a lot more on weekends than they currently do, and I feel that the university would be supporting the reason we’re all here instead of the depth of their pockets.