Warrior Insider: If I could redo my first year

By Wayne State CLAS Ambassador Em DeWolf

As a fourth-year student at Wayne State University, I have had a lot of time to reflect on how things have gone, what I could have done better and things I need to remember. My first semester officially at WSU was fall 2019. I was lucky enough to take classes before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Since I have been able to experience in-person and online classes as an on-campus and off-campus resident, I have a unique perspective on study skills and stress management.

Here is what I've learned!

Do Don't
Talk to your advisors. If you feel uncomfortable with who you've been assigned, you can set up appointments online with other advisors. As scary as it might seem, finding the right advisor for you as a person is key to feeling confident about your course selections. Refuse to ask for help. It took me failing three classes before I acknowledged that I needed help. Afterwards, I started seeing an on-campus counselor and spoke to SDS to get some help for exams, because I could rarely finish them on time. After that, I was able to take my exams in a stress-free environment for longer periods of time.
Attend lectures, even if it is not mandatory. In these classes, not taking attendance acts as a way for professors to start class quickly and for students to not be punished if they miss class. It is not because the lectures are not important. Only go on campus to attend classes or study. Wayne State has so much to offer in addition to classes. There are clubs, events, libraries, restaurants, social areas, various lounges and labs looking for student assistants.
Communicate with Student Disability Services (SDS) if you are struggling with mental or physical disabilities. This includes mental illnesses such as depression. You can receive accommodations for things such as lateness forgiveness or extended deadlines. For some of us, even getting ready for class can be exhausting. Eat your roommate's food. It's not worth it.
Color coordinate your preferred organizational strategy. I just started doing that this year, and it has helped make classes that aren't that fun feel more fun. I've attached some pictures of my notes as examples. Fear your resident advisors (RA). They are very kind and have lots of great advice. If you do get into trouble, you and your RA can talk it out and find a common solution that does not involve on-record punishments.

Overall, everyone at Wayne State wants to help you succeed, and remember, everyone else is looking for friends, too. You've got this!

Some note-taking styles that have helped me in the past.

Image of Glossary abbreviation definitions

Professors tend to talk quickly, so it helps to abbreviate words, and you might not always have time to jot down definitions. That's why I use two or three subject notebooks so that I can make myself a "key" while I'm studying. By having them in their own section, it's easier to stay organized.

Example of Color coordinated notes

Colors and charts make your notes more interesting to look at, therefore more fun to write and easier to remember! Diagrams are also super helpful in order to see how different terms connect to each other. The second image is one form of a flow chart.

Example of typed notes

Some students like to type up their notes and then annotate them while studying. Everyone has different note-taking strategies, there is no right or wrong way to do them. Do whatever works for you. I hope my examples help!

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