Friday, 17 April 2015

8 WAYS TO SUCK AT SCHOOL

... or, WHAT NOT TO DO IF YOU WANT DECENT GRADES.

With my horrible CAP of 3.3 (which I am not proud of but see no point in hiding), I am in no position to give any advice about school and studies. Still, being one who has done rather badly, I have certainly made enough mistakes to tell people what to avoid doing.

Since finals are looming ahead and the ghosts of procrastinations past are catching up to me, I am once again regretting my past actions this semester. Hindsight is always 20/20, no?

*take this with a pinch of salt because nothing I say should be used as a definitive guide*

01. DON'T BE TOO SHY TO ASK SENIORS FOR ADVICE

Seniors have been there done that. They know how each prof is like, which module is manageable, or how to study for certain modules. Don't be shy with asking seniors (just don't go overboard and be too annoying).

02. BUT DON'T TAKE THEIR ADVICE WHOLESALE

What was easy to your senior may not be easy for you, what they found interesting might bore the shit out of you. When I was a freshie, seniors told me NM2219 was manageable for a freshie. I took it without even knowing what it was about. During the very first tutorial, the tutor asked "so how many of you plan to go into PR?" and I was all "huh what PR semo lai de???" *facepalm*

03. DON'T MAJOR IN SOMETHING YOU DISLIKE

After receiving my utterly shit results one semester, I decided to ask Jindao for advice and he told me to take modules I enjoy. Even if others dislike it, even if others find it difficult, even if you are taking the module alone, sometimes interest is just more crucial. I realise it now.

When I had no interest, churning out a few words for an assignment was such horrible torture. You can give me 10 weeks to do an assignment and I will be just as uninspired because it simply doesn't call out to me. On the other hand, I loved NM3236 and studying for midterms was actually bearable. My interest for the topic will fuel me through the endless readings.

04. DON'T BE SHY TO CONSULT PROFS/TUTORS

This is a piece of advice I myself need to follow, because I am always so shy and awkward when it comes to consulting teachers. I always end up feeling like I'm pestering them so I just keep my questions to myself.

The worst module I have ever ever taken was NM2103. Holy crap, I was confused even up till my final exams. My experience with this module takes confusion to a whole new level. On hindsight, I should've consulted the prof. I asked seniors for help but the explanations weren't clear enough and it's never as certain as asking the prof who will be setting your exams anyway. Maybe if I bothered consulting the prof, I would've done better.

/update - it is now 2017 and I have since consulted several profs for essays and projects. It is really very useful! After discussing with your prof, you will feel so enlightened and motivated to get shit done. The profs were all so nice and eager to help! Before you go, just look through your materials, have a list of questions prepared and it will turn out fine :)

05. DON'T BE HAOLIAN OR OVERLY PESSIMISTIC

If you are doing well, don't get complacent and continue working hard. If you are doing badly, don't get demoralised but instead use it as motivation to work even harder. I have to remind myself this because it's so easy to fall into either trap.

I've been screwing up so much that it's also easy to lose hope and give up. It's even more difficult to continue believing things might improve, especially people around you are pretty vocal about their belief that if your CAP is shit up till now, it's just going to stay shit the rest of your uni life.

Well, I think that nothing will improve if you don't believe it will, so I'm just trying to tune out all the negativity.

06. DON'T BLINDLY CHOOSE MODULES

Some introspection and self-awareness is always good. Different people study differently, different profs teach differently, so figure out which style suits you best.

The best grade I've gotten so far were modules were IEM (which was about expository writing) and NM2220 (which was about media writing). It took me 3 semesters to realise that perhaps modules that require writing skills would work better in my favour.

07. DON'T FORGET TO PLAN YOUR TIMETABLE

Choosing modules can get complicated because it is not only about the content, teaching style, etc. The big picture is your timetable, which you are stuck with for the rest of the semester so plan wisely.

Of course, there's the obvious advice: avoid having more than one exam per day, or having exams on consecutive days, unless you are sure you can handle it. Lecture and tutorial venues are also important, since it is best to avoid back-to-back lessons at different parts of the campus. Shuttle bus timings can be frustrating, and it would be exhausting to rush around and worry about being late for tutorials every single week.

More importantly, find a timetable that suits you. I once had a timetable with a free Wednesday and was so happy about it... but I ended up wasting every single free day slacking away. I have so little self-control and I burn out so easily that a free day in the middle of the week ends up being a day for me to rest and recharge, which was the exact opposite of my original intention which was to study.

08. STATING THE MOST GLARINGLY OBVIOUS, BUT DO NOT PROCRASTINATE

Ha ha, as if this advice ever works. Every semester before finals, I realise how little time I have left to study so many things and I wish I didn't procrastinate during the semester. At the start of every semester, I tell myself this sem I will do my readings before lecture and type of notes after each lecture. Bullshit. I break that promise the moment I attend my first lecture.

You realise how important this piece of advice can be, but to really carry it out requires so much self-control that I simply do not have. I would buy some self-control from the black market if I could.

***

Okay, that was basically a list of mistakes I have made since the very beginning of my NUS life, that I need to constantly remind myself to avoid.

Also, the title said "how to suck at school" but honestly, school is more than just studying. I told myself, if all I get from my 3 or 4 years in NUS is academic results, then I have failed university. This is my chance to make friends, try new things, find out what I like, the typical cheesy stuff. I am glad I got to experience life in Tembusu (although I did not make the most out of it), I am thankful for friends who brighten up my university life, I am glad to have joined SLF 2014 and CNM Society, and I am hoping to join more things in my last few semesters here at NUS :)

/update: the rollercoaster ride that is my CAP is now 3.5 > 3.33 > 3.38 > 3.59 > 3.78 > 3.97 > 4.05. So yeah, don't give up just because of one or two semesters of shitty results!!!

2 comments:

  1. Interesting tips!!!!!!! HAHA. I reached this page via googling for NM3236

    ReplyDelete