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#ChinoyTips: For The Incoming Freshmen

The new school year is just around the corner, and for a lot of us, that means entering university. It may be daunting, but it is indeed exciting. Hence, to ease your mind a bit and to equip you with some life hacks as you enter college, we’ve gathered a list of study tips from some Chinoy upperclassmen who are always in their A game when it comes to academics. So to the incoming freshmen, take notes!

1) Know your goals

Christine Kaw is currently a third year BS Health Sciences student from Ateneo de Manila University. As a constant dean’s lister, her biggest study tip would be to know your goals. She said “be intentional with your time in uni. While it is an avenue for self-discovery, advocacy-finding, and life-long relationships, it primarily remains as an institution for learning. Goal-setting reduces the risk of being overwhelmed or stretched too thin as uni introduces various people and campaigns. Listing a set of goals and affirmations will help you determine your direction and priorities as you enter college. Although these objectives may change given you are a dynamic human being, having a note to review might help you recenter amidst the influences and challenges that will come.”

She added, “this habit of ideating has been instilled in me as I’ve lived with people who tended to feel burnt out or unfulfilled from being pulled into different directions. I’ve learned that it allows you to look ahead and lay out an ideal scheme able to balance acads, org work, socialization etc. More importantly, it helps prepare you to make hard decisions whether it be sacrificing sleep, saying no to exciting trips, or learning to be alone. While this tip is only as good as one’s discipline, I believe it is foundational in operating with the understanding that one’s time in college is meant to bolster his future. As such, it emphasizes that the success of extracurricular activities and social functions aren’t meant to feed-off one’s academic rigor.” 

2) Build Rapport

Christine also emphasized on the importance of building connections and relationships in college. She said “foster meaningful relationships with people who share and/or encourage your goals. You will meet a plethora of personalities in uni- most enticing, several destructive, and a few inspiring. These people are inclusive of fellow freshmen, upperclassmen, professors, and even university staff. Engaging in several pleasant encounters will help you find a stable and healthy support system. I believe that the positive and productive habits I’ve emulated and developed with my good friends have been pivotal in allowing me to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Ateneo. Several of the key advice would be to introduce yourself as an attentive learner to your professor, and then to follow through with consultations/emails when necessary, explore the services and facilities offered in your university, and learn the names of the people who man them, identify your weaknesses, and learn to delegate tasks around them, be accountable for your shortcomings, and learn to accept CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Consequential connections and personal growth do not come from interaction with one class alone. A dear friend once told me that there are few people who can be your friend for everything. It is important to know how to let people complement one another as no one person can be never-failing in any scenario.”

3) Choose your friends wisely

Building on what Christine said, Chloe Say, an AB Major in Psychology and BS in Legal Management student of De La Salle University, said that choosing the people you connect with greatly matters. She said “find people who support you and believe in you, as you do to them. Find people that share the same goals, and aspirations as you do. It’s easier to work on homework and projects when you have your friends with you, and when you can see eye to eye on the expectations for the outputs. College is a big place and you’re bound to meet a lot of new people, it’s a normal occurrence to get grouped with people and not get along with their work habits. Just like study habits, people have different work habits. However, it’s important to know the difference between people who work differently from you and those that don’t help at all. Learn to say no to these people, and learn to “drop” them when they’re not doing their share.”

Chloe also shared her experience as she narrated, “I tend to be groupmates with my friends because we provide each other with both academic and social support; we study together, provide emotional support for personal and academic struggles, share our different org life, and converse about everything else in between. We have a clear understanding of how we work on projects, expectations, and goals on it. When we have papers to be done, we even divide the tasks anymore because we’re so used to working together that we know which part goes to who.”

4) Take a break and have me-time 

Source: Gyfcat

Chloe’s next tip is to learn the importance of rest. She said, “whenever I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do, I let myself rest. I binge on Netflix, eat out, go to the mall, just something that takes your mind’s focus off of academics.”

5) Try to get perfect attendance

Source: Giphy

Chloe also shared how you can get some perks if you always go to class. She said “some profs give additional .5 to your final grades if you do. Whilst others use your attendance for your grades in recitation, etc.”

6) Read the syllabus

Source: Tenor

In high school, reading the syllabus may not be a thing. However, in college, Chloe emphasizes on how vital the syllabus is. “Understand the expectations from your professors, look at the timeline and pacing of the course. Additionally know the equivalent of your percent grade to the 4.0 scale, it could mean the difference between a 4.0 and a 3.5.” She then shared, “I had a class during my second year, and during the grade consultation day when I got my grade of 92, wherein my prof gave me a 3.0 for its 4.0 equivalence. Until I remembered that before, I’ve seen in our syllabus that 92 was a 3.5 for his class. Got not only my grade but also some of my classmates’ grades bumped up.”

7) Don’t merely memorize

Si tak is popularly practiced in high school, especially in Chinese classes. However, we should change that if we really want to learn. Mihaila del Pilar, a third year architecture student of the University of the Philippines, shared this sentiment as she said “memorizing information and taking in technical terms as they are simply does not make the cut as it only allows you to remember them for a time being. If your goal is to get the identification part right and pass the test, then memorizing without understanding might work. But for the long road ahead, we must aim higher beyond grades and numbers.”

She also shared her personal experience as she narrated, “back in high school, I would simply write down notes in class and memorize everything afterwards. I would pass the tests but upon entering college, I find myself not remembering all the things I have learned back in high school. Ultimately, I realized that learning is not equivalent to memorizing so I tried to understand and visualize the concepts more in my subjects, especially majors. As an architecture student, it is best to understand various concepts and be able to integrate them in future projects in order to continuously improve and produce effective outputs. In a nutshell, rather than just memorizing and eventually forgetting, it is better to understand and apply these concepts in and for the future.”

8) Take advantage of the available study resources

Mihaila also said that “besides the notes you take during class, there are a lot of available study resources inside and outside the campus. One can go to the library, get a tutor, watch educational videos or download study tools online. These alternative study resources not only can improve your academics but also, improve your habits and knowledge at the same time.”

She added, “in college, some or if not most professors would give difficult exams or pop quizzes which consist of questions outside of their lectures. Having such experiences, I realized that my usual learning style back in high school of just taking down notes and studying given slides will not work. Eventually, I learned to compile resources outside of what was given and study the topics more extensively. In turn, these helped me become more prepared during class, improve my learning style and in total, gain more knowledge.”

9) Never hesitate to consult your professors for clarification

Winruvie Wang is another Chinoy A-student that excels both academically and extracurricularly. She is an incoming junior of University of Santo Tomas, taking up BS Nursing. When asked what her #1 study tip is, it would be consulting with professors. She shared, “while memorizing without understanding may seem bearable since we were used to pei nian or mo nian back in my HS alma mater, it just does not sail smoothly for me in any subject if I do not grasp the meaning behind the concepts. All my classmates from HS to uni know how much I love asking questions usually after class to not interrupt the lectures. So I highly encourage you to ask and seek for answers and clarification since professors are already experts of their respective fields. It is not only easier to retain information if you understand the concepts, but you also have to keep in mind that the essence of education or studying is to learn — you ask because you want to learn. While we are students for now, we will all be professionals in the future no matter what course or field we have chosen. Hence, we have to maximize our learning during our college days.”

She then said “in general, I have learned to further appreciate asking questions in college specifically during our skills-based demonstrations because I want “to do things right” not simply for my grades which is short-term, but for the sake of proudly serving my future patients without mistakes in the long run.”

10) Stay loyal to the colors of your highlighters

Another tip that Winruvie gave is about highlighters! She said, “I consistently use colors orange, green, and yellow for the term, its definition, and other relevant information, respectively. When you choose a set of colors and assign them to your own liking, it will be easier for you to identify and review important information, hence to memorize what you have to remember for your examinations. I think there is no “best” highlighter color, but if you’re used to using a particular color, just go for that color. Because once this color is already programmed by your brain, it will again be faster for you to retain information. This is the reason why I had a hard time studying for quizzes when I switched to colors blue and pink for a change haha. Although it varies from one person to person, this tip is worth a try.”

11) Don’t be afraid to shift

Source: Tenor

To wrap this list up, Chloe shared one of the biggest pieces of advice a freshman needs to hear — do not be afraid to shift. Chloe said, “after your first 2 terms and thereafter, you can apply to shift. It’s important that you like what you’re taking up, and feel that you’ve made the right choice.”

Do you have more tips for the incoming freshmen? Be sure to comment it down below!

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