Five Ways to Get (And Stay) Ahead at University

Posted by Deea Deb on September 21, 2022

Academic Success

Image of York University students jumping up with the text "Top Five Ways to Get (And Stay) Ahead at Unievrsity

There are so many fun things going on at York this month, and it’s great to see students participating in events, workshops and even classes! Being involved in Orientation, social events, and career fairs are all super awesome, but they can also distract us from our studies. I don’t know about you, but I hate having to cram everything the night before exams. Nobody needs that kind of stress in their lives! So, we’re here to give you some tips and tricks to get ahead on your university coursework.

Don’t miss classes

Image of students attending a lecture in a lecture hall

You may be tempted to skip class (especially if you find yourself not interested in it). We’ve all done it at some point. If you miss too many classes at university, it will be very difficult for you to catch up. Some instructors may also fail you in the course for being absent. So, unless there is an emergency or you’re unwell, try to make it to every lecture, tutorial, lab or seminar.

How does this help?

Attending all your classes ensures you have all the information from your instructors and are not dependent on your classmates. Instructors often mention important themes, questions, passages, etc., which may be helpful during exams. Missing the class means missing hints from your instructors!

Take your own notes

Image of a group of students taking notes and interacting with each other

You may think that you can always ask your classmates for notes if you miss classes. Yes, you can. But remember that everyone has their unique way of taking notes and studying, which may or may not be beneficial for you. For example, I always take notes in bullet points. It helps me keep the key points in mind. But you may need complete sentences or paragraphs even to remember the content. So, my method would be useless to you.

How does this help?

Taking your own notes also helps you remember the material better. Reading through your notes later, you can associate the moment you wrote this in class with what you wrote. This association enables you to actively recall information from your lectures.

Need help with notetaking? Check out our post on Reading, Note-Taking, And Study Strategies That Every University Student Must Know.

Start prepping early

Image of a student sitting on the steps outside the Chemistry building and working on his laptop

If you don’t want to fall behind, stay on top of everything from the beginning. Make sure you complete your readings before class. Review your notes regularly and schedule study time in your calendar.

How does this help?

Although you do have the option of doing your readings after your lecture, it will take you more time to understand and relate to the lecture material. You won’t be lost in class if you do your readings beforehand. This will help you make course connections and think critically when instructors ask questions. It is also a great way to make a good impression on your instructors!

Want to start early but keep procrastinating? Here are Five Tips for Staying Motivated and Productive!

Calendar everything!

Image of a calendar on a computer screen

I cannot stress this enough! Time management is essential to university life, whether you are taking a couple of courses or have a heavier course load and extra-curricular activities. Make sure to add all your deadlines, class schedules, extracurricular, and other life commitments to your calendar.

How does this help?

Calendaring your events, classes, and deadlines helps you stay organized and avoid unpleasant surprises. Imagine not submitting a completed assignment because you messed up the dates! To improve your time management skills, check out Learning Skills Services’ workshops on managing time. These workshops happen every week, so don’t worry if you miss this week!

Before you begin calendaring, don’t forget to check these out:

Take care of yourself

Image of three students sitting on the lawn and talking to each other

The first few weeks can be stressful as you get settled in. To stay motivated and energized throughout the term, it is important to make time for your physical and mental well-being.

How does this help?

Making time for yourself to do the things you love, going out for walks, working out, catching up with friends and family, watching a movie, exploring Toronto or anything that doesn’t involve coursework can help you energize yourself. We have a ton of resources with tips!

To stay up to date on campus life and events, connect with York on social media. You can follow us on Facebook @YorkUStudents, Twitter @YorkUStudents, Instagram @studentlifeyu and with our weekly This Week @ York emails.

Deea Deb
Deea Deb

Deea Deb is a third-year English and Professional Writing major at York University. She loves reading, travelling, being organized, and writing. She hopes to help York students succeed at university.

See other posts by Deea Deb