Survival Strategies for Students

By Jeanne Bannon, Director, Counseling & Student Services

Many graduate students are wearing different hats: scholar, employee, professional development enthusiast, community supporter, family member, etc.  Each of you are at New York University to learn, to excel, and to earn a degree. The question is how to balance the many and varied activities

1. Get organized. Get a calendar, get a weekly reminder app; something to keep track of deadlines, exams, appointments, due dates. This should be done at the beginning of each semester (of course put your holidays in first!) then work backwards from there. If you have an exam on the 1st of March and you need to start preparing 2 weeks ahead of time for a major exam, count back 2 weeks from March 1st and put it in your calendar to begin preparing for your exam.

Make studying a regular part of your schedule, like going to the gym or getting up in the morning.  Studying will also be more effective if you have more frequent shorter blocks of time rather than the ubiquitous “all-nighter”.

2. Setting priorities. School is a fulltime job. Rule of thumb: study 2 hours out of class for each credit you are taking. Therefore, 12 credit hours equal to 24 hours of study in addition to class time. This time commitment is the equivalent of a part-time job and it should be the number one priority.
Learn to say “No”. If you are asked to meet for happy hour, or a family member has asked you to pick up a relative from school, or mom misses you and wants you to come home for dinner, it is difficult to say no but you may have to reschedule, move other commitments around, or simply take a raincheck.  Learn to negotiate and learn to say “no” when it is necessary.

3. Learn effective study strategies.  Examples of this include making charts, outlines, highlight, color-coding notes, rewriting notes, index cards, etc. And learn to read effectively; skimming is acceptable.A. Preview the material. Ask yourselves what you need to get out of the material.B. Read the material but make it an active pursuit. Highlight, take notes, outline, and answer questions that have been raised. C. Review the material. Did you answer the questions you set up for yourself? Are you able to outline the material? A good exercise is to explain the material to someone.

Remember to use the strategies that work best for you!

4. Self-Sabotage. If you are night owl, don’t set the alarm clock for 6 am.  It just isn’t going to happen!  If you are an early bird then don’t plan on staying up until 3 am.

5. Finally, use the resources on campus. At NYU Steinhardt we offer workshops and will schedule one on one time with students that encompass study skills, time management, preparing for examinations, and stress management.  We do recognize the number of demands that you face in these busy times, and we are available to help you or to help you find the assistance needed to be successful. Visit the Office of Counseling & Student Services in Pless Hall on the 2nd floor.