Making the transition from secondary school to college life is not easy. But with the right tools and tricks, you can easily hack college life for a smooth sailing experience.
From downright ingenious to masterly sneaky, here are our favourite hacks that will make surviving college a piece of cake.
#1. Keep all your work online
Ever heard of the blue screen of death? It’s when your computer crashes and forcefully shuts down, indiscriminately erasing hours of unsaved work in a split second.
Avoid the heartache by using cloud-based services such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word for the web that will automatically save your work as you type. What’s more, you can access your work anytime, anywhere — all you need to do is log in to your account and voilà, it’s all there!
From writing assignments to storing important files, you’ll want to sign up for these tools:
- Write and collaborate on assignments: Google Doc, Microsoft Word for the web
- Store files and documents (e.g. exam transcripts, notes): Google Drive, Dropbox
- Track your to-dos: Evernote, OneNote, Notion
#2. Set your phone’s lock screen to show your timetable
Have you ever woken up drenched in cold sweat from a nightmare about getting your class time wrong? The fear is real.
It’s easy to lose track of time with online class. After all, you don’t even have to leave your room. Everything is done online and with no physical reminder around you, your concept of time can get a little skewed.
Keep your class schedule, course codes and lecturer names at hand by snapping a photo of your class timetable and setting it as your lock screen. We know, this is precious real estate we’re talking about. Why put a piece of paper as your lock screen when you can have Spongebob and Patrick? But trust us when we say this will make the first few weeks of college life so much easier.
#3. Pair a difficult class with an easy one
No matter which institution you attend or what course you study, you’re bound to have that one class that no one can ace. Whether it’s because of the strict lecturer, the crazy workload or the complicated subject matter, its difficulty is legendary.
The beauty of college is that you can now create your own schedule of classes.
Balance your semester workload by taking easy subjects and those that interest you. Can’t avoid the nightmare of a class? Try taking it in a semester where you can mix it in with easy electives or introductory subjects. That way, you can spend more time on the harder subject or at the very least, balance the low grade with the As you get from the easier subjects.
#4. Make a vision board
Being away from the college atmosphere can be demotivating. So why not spruce your study corner up and make it more inspirational with your own personal vision board?
Get a big cork board and tack on things to keep you motivated and focused. For starters, try adding some quotes and empowering messages as they are proven to have a positive effect on your brain. You can also add a schedule of your assignments and deadlines to ensure you’re on track with all your tasks. Photos of your loved ones can also serve as a motivation for you to strive hard and do well in college.
#5. Download paid software for free
Did you know that you actually have to pay for software such as Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop and Windows Movie Maker?
Here’s a little-known secret — many universities pay a special subscription fee that allows their students to download these programmes for free. Yep, that’s right, you don’t have to pay a cent! You can usually find this on your student account. Otherwise, you can check your student guide or ask the IT department.
#6. Get a friend to ask a question during your presentation
Can you imagine acing your PowerPoint presentation only to lose out marks because you couldn’t answer a question from some random classmate?
To help you appear more confident and adept, consider planning pre-vetted questions. Plant your friends in the audience and get them to ask you questions about your presentation. You can either give them a list of questions you’re comfortable with or present to them earlier and discuss some possible questions they can ask.
This way, you will appear prepared and confident in front of your lecturer, hopefully boosting your marks.
#7. Stock up on healthy snacks
With last-minute assignments (trust us when we say there will be many) comes stress-eating. Before you start munching on junk food, trust us when we say you’re better off stocking up on healthy food and making your own snacks.
As a substitute, stock up on delicious and healthy brain food like sunflower seeds, walnuts and dark chocolate. Feeling stressed about an upcoming test? Don’t even think about reaching for the scrumptious doughnuts. Opt for healthier alternatives like yoghurt and avocado instead.
#8. Keep a water bottle nearby
The Malaysian weather is not to be underestimated and with global warming, it’s only going to get worse (#savetheearth). With online learning keeping you rooted to your table, you probably can’t be bothered to get up for a drink every now and then.
But staying hydrated is important. Studies have shown that you can feel easily fatigued and demotivated even under even mild levels of dehydration. So if you’re too lazy to move, why not bring the water to you? Get a large bottle stocked with water nearby so whenever you’re feeling parched or thirsty, all you have to do is just drink up!
#9. Take notes simultaneously with classmates using Google Docs
Let’s be honest. Paying attention to a screen is not an easy task and we’ve all had moments where we just blanked out. Stay ahead of this issue by taking advantage of the technology around you.
Bring note-taking to the next level by collaborating with your classmates on a shared Google Doc. When a lecture is going on, invite your classmates as contributors and get everyone to start jotting down notes for the class. This works best if you have one person in charge of each section or topic, with everyone else contributing additional comments and context.
With this, you no longer have to worry about missing any crucial details because the lecturer was going too fast or you inadvertently dozed off for a microsecond. The fact that it’s a digital document also means that you can access it remotely with ease.
#Bonus Hack: Enrol for a diploma for fast-track employment
Here’s another life hack you should know — taking a diploma right after SPM is your secret to fast-track employment, especially if you have quality education from a reputable institution. Unlike pre-university programmes, a diploma certificate can stand on its own and allows you to seek employment as soon as you graduate.
If you’re looking for a solid education to kickstart your career, head on over and apply for Taylor’s many Diploma programmes. Check out Taylor’s Diploma in Business (DIB), Diploma in Communication (DICM), Diploma in Information Technology (DIT) or Diploma in Interior Design (DID) and get started on your journey to career excellence.