How To Survive A University Course-Midterms and Finals

This post is part of a series on how to survive a university course. You can read the other posts here.


When it comes to midterms and finals, studying for them can be quite stressful. Since it is that time of year when exams are creeping up, I figured I would share some of my tips.

So, without further ado, here are my tips for studying for exams and midterms:

  1. Study!!! Don’t go completely blind into exam or midterm, at the very least look over your notes a few times.
  2. If you get any topics for essays or exams beforehand, prepare them well. It’ll give you more time to focus on writing instead of content, and might give you more time to go over the exam at the end to catch any mistakes.
  3. Know when and where your exams are since they might be in different places or times than the class is. As well, most universities release exam schedules pretty early, so keep out an eye for any changes too.
  4. Know what you can and can’t bring to exams. Your prof will tell you in class usually what they will allow you to bring into the exam, including cheat sheets or books. Most universities should also post what you’re allowed in exams on campus or online.
  5. Make sure you get some sleep, are eating well, are exercising, and stay healthy during midterms and finals. Neglecting any of these things can drastically affect how well you perform on your exams.
  6. Go to the exam review or midterm review for your classes. You can ask any questions about content you have, and profs sometimes give hints about things that will appear on exams. If you can’t make the review, ask friends in class for information or go to the prof’s office hours.
  7. Find a friend to study with! Sometimes it’s better to study with another person so they can catch what you’re missing in the content or so you can brainstorm ideas.
  8. Remember to take breaks. Studying for hours on end is not productive, so take a little walk or watch an episode of your favorite show every now and then.
  9. Have some confidence in yourself. Remember to take a deep breath, tell yourself you’ve studied and worked hard, and that you’re going to kick this exam’s butt.
  10. Look at your marks if you can before going into the exam. Knowing how you’re doing so far in the course and the weight of your exams or midterms is always a good thing and can give you some peace of mind.
  11. If you’re really worried about exams, there may be some tutors or free courses on campus that can help you out. Don’t be afraid to ask upper year students or profs what resources they recommend as well!

What are some of your study tips for midterms and exams? Leave them in the comments below!

-Mel.

Xaverian Weekly Master Post

Hello everyone!

As you know, I’m writing for my university’s newspaper this year, which is partially why I’m not writing on here as much. I’m a staff writer, which means I’ve been writing an article for each issue of the newspaper.

I figured to make up for the lack of posts on here, I’d make a master post of all my newspaper articles so that you can read them when the blog is quiet. A quick word of warning; since I write for my university’s newspaper, the articles are geared more towards those that go to or have gone to my university. However, I hope my articles are relevant to any university students out there.

Also, it should go without saying, that all the articles belong to the Xaverian Weekly, and not to myself personally. They have all been edited and reviewed by my fantastic editors and the co-editors-in-chief (round of applause for all the hard work they do).

So, without further ado, here are links to my articles I’ve written so far!


Surviving a University Course-Study Tips

This post is part of a series about surviving a university course. You can find the rest of the posts here.


Since the busy crunch time is coming up for most university students, I figured I’d share a few of my study tips to help make it more manageable.

So, without further ado, here they are!

  • Make your notes work for your learning style. Rewrite them, highlight them, draw giant information webs, whatever works best for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods!
  • Don’t over study, since it can be just as bad as understudying. This is when it’s crucial to know if your professor only needs you to know certain course material, or if you’re expected to know everything from the course and more.
  • Have a good study space or workspace. Either off or on campus, find a quiet space that lets you get your work done with the least distractions.
  • Take breaks and reward yourself during long study sessions. No matter if it’s a walk, stretching, a food or coffee break, it’ll help you retain facts in the long run.
  • Eat and drink things to keep you going during study time. Hopefully, you choose healthy food, but sometimes you need some chocolate or comfort food.
  • Keep your things organized to make studying easier and avoid losing important papers. If you take a few minutes every day to put papers from class where they belong, you’ll be so much better off for the stressful times of the semester.
  • Find an interactive way to study. Flash cards, fill-in-the-blanks, or practice tests are very useful. Remember, studying with friends might be interactive if you’re quizzing each other, but it can be distracting as well.
  • Try to limit distractions like texting, social media, and Netflix. Study times should be only study time. I also recommend listening to instrumental music so you’re not distracted by lyrics in songs.
  • Take a night off every once and a while to charge your batteries. You’ll need it later during the semester, and going out or some Netflix is good for you.

What are your best study tips to succeed in university? Leave them down below!

-Mel.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to write a quick post since it’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. I hope that all of you take advantage of the time off to relax and have some fun with your family and friends. As well, make sure to get your fill on all the best foods that Thanksgiving offers. I’m talking cranberries, pie, mashed potatoes, turkey buns, sweet potatoes…the whole nine yards.

For those of you that are unable to visit home for the holidays like me, try and make the best of the long weekend. If you need advice for surviving the weekend, I just wrote a piece about Thanksgiving away from home for my university’s newspaper, which you can find here.

I also hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of fall as well, and are taking advantage of the awesome seasonal activities. I know I’ve already restrained myself from buying a lot of mini pumpkins to decorate my dorm room…

If you guys have any cool things you’ve got planned for the fall or Thanksgiving, let me know about them below so I get some inspiration for what to do on my weekends!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and have a lovely weekend!

-Mel.

Surviving a University Course-During the Semester

This is part of a series of posts about surviving a university course. You can find the first two posts here.


As the semester progresses, it can sometimes be a bit of juggling act to get everything done, and done well. Not to mention, early classes start to feel even earlier as the semester progresses…

Here are some of my tips for things you should try and do during the semester so that things go as smoothly as possible!

  1. Try to be on time and with all your materials. Don’t be that annoying constantly late person or pen borrower.
  2. Come to class with a mindset to work. Even if you don’t really like the course, you’ll get more out of it if you put in an effort.
  3. Take notes! Even if they’re messy, they might contain an important test answer later on.
  4. Do your assignments, on time preferably. That way you’ll know the material better and you won’t lose marks for handing things in late. If you do need an extension for any reason, try to ask for one sooner rather than later from your prof.
  5. If you miss a class, try to get notes from friends to catch up. Only ask your prof for notes if you missed a lot of classes or have tried friends and online notes first.
  6. GO TO OFFICE HOURS. Your prof is there to help you with questions or to help you out with assignments. Plus if they know you, it’ll be easier to ask for references or extensions later on.
  7. Try to keep up with course material. You’ll probably fall a bit behind at some point, but try your best to keep up or set aside time to catch up if you’re really behind.
  8. Keep an eye on your grades so you know how you’re doing. This will help you going into midterms or finals and with deciding if you might want to drop a course.
  9. If your course load is too heavy or you’re doing really badly in a course, don’t be afraid to drop classes. However, it’s better to decide that before course drop deadlines.
  10. Take a break. Sometimes, the best thing to do when you’re overwhelmed by work is to take a hour or two for yourself. An episode of your favourite series or a nap might be the special ingredient to boost your productivity sky high.

What do you guys do during the semester to keep your grades up? Leave a comment down below!

-Mel.

Quick blog update!

Hello to my lovely followers!

Since I’m now writing articles weekly for my school newspaper, I decided I will only be posting once a month. There might be some months where I’ll be writing two posts, but for now, I’ve decided to only commit to one post in the interest of my academic and personal life.

I hope you all stick around, I’ll be continuing the Surviving a University Course series this semester, with some possible bonus posts as well.  And, if you want to check out my school newspaper and all the awesome content from the people that work there, the link is here.

If any of you are interested in seeing specific content or posts in the following months please leave a comment or send me a message, I’m always open to suggestions!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

-Mel.

Surviving a University Course-Preparation and Your First Class

This post is a continuation of surviving a university course series. You can find the first post here, and more posts about university here.


Congratulations! You’ve managed to register for courses, and now that you’re all moved in, it’s time for the first day of class. But before you go to your first class, here are the things you should remember to do:

  1. Find out what textbooks you’ll need for each course. However, unless you’re 100% sure they won’t get changed by the prof, wait until after the first class to buy them.
  2. Get your university ID and any paperwork you need to do before the first day.
  3. Find out where your classes are on campus. Especially if you’re in first year or new to campus, find time to explore your campus to get a sense of where things are.
  4. Buy school supplies! Find yourself some cute notebooks, binders, and lots of writing supplies. And, if you’re using a laptop, get all the tech gear you’ll need for the year.
  5. Get everything ready the night before the first day of class, and get a good nights rest to have plenty of energy for it.

Since you’ve got all the prep work done for the first day of class, here’s what you should do when it actually arrives:

  1. Get to classes a bit early, to find a good seat for your learning needs.
  2. Listen very carefully to the syllabus. Profs usually go over important deadlines, textbook information, and mark breakdown the first class.
  3. Introduce yourself to some of your seatmates or classmates. Making friends in class will save your grades later during crunch time.
  4. Ask questions if you have any! It’ll help you be clear on class expectations and might help you decide if you want to stay in the class.
  5. Go and buy your textbooks after your first classes. There are usually textbook buy and sell groups on Facebook as well, so you might be able to get your textbooks for cheaper.
  6. Put all the important dates for assignments and tests in your calendar, as well as professor contact information and office hours. I really like using the iStudiez Pro app for this, since it also allows you to track marks.

What do you guys do to prepare for the first day of class? Let me know down below!

-Mel.

Back to School-What’s in My Backpack?

Since it’s that time of year when I start wearing a backpack everywhere, I decided to make a post on what I keep in it!

So, without further ado, here’s what I keep in my backpack!

  1. A pencil case full of beautiful pens. I love having a lot of different coloured and fancy pens since I write a lot.  I’d also recommend keeping pencils, highlighters, a USB, and sticky notes in your pencil case.
  2. A water bottle, full to the brim. It never ever hurts to be hydrated! And, if you’re not so keen on plain water, grab something like MiO to mix in.
  3. My laptop or tablet! Since I’m writing for the school paper this year, having either is essential for writing and research. I recommend anyone looking for a laptop to get something compatible with the software the campus uses, and something that’s lightweight.
  4. Snacks! When the study sessions or back to back classes prevent you from running to meal hall, these will save you.  Try and take healthy items as well!
  5. Notebooks, the three subject ones from Hilroy. I carry these around for notes, as I learn things better from lectures when I write them down.
  6. A power bank, or phone chargers. Somehow either my iPod or phone always starts dying, so I carry around a power bank with small charging cables for both of my devices.  It’s also useful if your university campus is short on power outlets.
  7. A jacket or a sweater. Study spaces have a magical ability to be too warm or too cold, so it’s best to have an extra layer. Plus, with wacky weather in Canada, a jacket is always a good idea.
  8. Pins or anything to decorate your backpack. I’m a huge fan of putting far too many fandom pins on my backpack to stand out from the crowd. Why have the same backpack as everyone else when you can have the Tardis on yours?
  9. My textbooks as needed. I don’t usually carry around textbooks, just since mine are usually as heavy as bricks. I will carry around small novels for classes, like Frankenstein or the Book Thief.
  10. Some money or my wallet.  Chances are, I’ll make a food or coffee run, so it’s best to be prepared for those breaks.

What do you guys keep in your backpack that I’ve missed? Let me know down below!

-Mel.

Back To School-Advice to University Frosh

Starting university is pretty daunting, especially the first year. You have this to do list that stretches on for ages, you’ll be meeting a lot of new people, adjusting to a new place, and having to get back to studying.

If you’re a frosh, and just panicked slightly from reading that last sentence, take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay, you will survive your first week, first month, and first year at university.

Now, since you took that deep breath, here are my tips on how to survive your first year on campus!

  1. Enjoy every moment of frosh week. Do all the activities, eat all the free food, and go down a jello slide or two. You will treasure these memories for the rest of your life, and make some amazing friends. Us older students are always jealous we can’t do it over again every year.
  2. Use your meal hall or food swipes. Even though I can guarantee that by the end of the first few months you’ll be sick of campus food, use your swipes. Take the unlimited food (and chocolate milk) for granted while you can.
  3. Get a feel for the campus and the town or city you’re living in when you arrive. Knowing where things are will make you feel all the more confident.
  4. Try to not skip classes, and don’t be that person who just shows up for finals. You might not want to go to that early class, but your marks will thank you for showing up later on.
  5. Get involved on campus. There are so many clubs and activities you can join, and chances are that there’s a night where they showcase all these organizations on campus. Plus, first year is a great time to get involved since you’ll have a bit more free time.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you need to change courses, your scholarship money got messed up, or anything else, ask for help when you need it. It’ll save you headaches later on, and there are people on campus whose job is to help guide you through any problems. 
  7. Try to get along with your roommate(s), and people in your building. Unless you’re stuck in a terrible situation, you’ll make friends really fast that way. Plus, they might save you later on by letting you use their printer for a last minute essay.
  8. Get some school spirit. Even if you’re not the biggest sports fan, you can still be proud of your school. Help out with the student union, get a positive residence rivalry going on, or pop by the rink to watch your team play hockey. It’s really easy to show your support for your campus.
  9. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I know how difficult it can be to push yourself when you’re in a completely new environment, but it’ll teach you a lot of valuable life lessons. I know I’ve met some great people at university just by saying hello, and found what I’m passionate about by trying something new.
  10. Stay in touch with friends and family back home. If you live across the country from them like me, having their support is fantastic for getting through homesickness. Plus, long chats with family and friends always make you feel better.
  11. If you’re unhappy with your program, what you’re studying, or university in general, that’s okay. First year is a learning experience, and if it teaches you that you like something else or that you don’t like university, that’s great. You can always change classes or programs, no matter what the university website says.

What do you guys wish you’d done differently first year, or what do you wish you’d known? Leave them down in the comments below!

-Mel.

Back To School-What to Pack

As much as I hide away a lot of my stuff in campus storage every year, I still have to lug most of my things for university across the country. So, for those headed off to university that need to pack all their life belongings into a few suitcases, I’ve got you covered.

Here are my tips for what to pack, and what to leave behind.

What to Pack:

  1. Portable electronics you’ll need. This means your cell phone, iPod, laptop, and all those goodies. Make sure you pack all the necessary chargers and cases as well.
  2. Any prescription medication, glasses, and prescriptions. Do not forget any medications you are taking or will need to take. Having all of these will save you many hours at the doctor or pharmacist, and keep you healthy.
  3. A few school supplies. You don’t need to bring every notebook and pen in your room, but if you want to pack some essentials in a pencil case, that’s perfect. You can always buy more when you get to campus.
  4. Clothes, of course! Try and pack items that can easily be layered or worn through multiple seasons. Make sure you do have clothes for nights out, interviews or other formal events, and for comfort. Don’t forget underwear, bras, socks, or pajamas too!
  5. Some special things from home. This could be anything from family photos to a special scarf. It’s really nice to have at least a small part of home at university.
  6. A backpack and a small everyday bag. You’ll need a backpack for university, and often I use mine as my carry on bag for flying. I also usually pack a small purse for nights I want to go out, or if I’m up to something off campus.
  7. A small first aid kit. Trust me, nothing’s worse than getting a small injury or a headache, so it’s best to have some supplies on hand. I usually keep a variety of band-aids, some Polysporin, medical tape, gauze, and Advil in my first aid kit.
  8. Various forms of ID. When you’re off at university, you’ll probably need ID at some point for anything from going out to getting a job. I would recommend you have your passport or provincial ID, driver’s license, student ID (if you have it already), health insurance, and health care cards.
  9. Your wallet and debit/credit cards. Even if your bank account is a little low from tuition and textbooks, how else are you going to buy anything you need?

What Not to Pack:

  1. Bedding and Pillows. Unless you’re driving up to school or have a very special blanket you need, it’s best to buy these when you get to campus. They’re very bulky, and chances are there’s a store nearby that sells them.
  2. Lots of shoes, because they’re bulky. I recommend that when you’re packing to choose shoes that look good with everything, and that you can wear in any season. You can also pack more shoes if they can be packed flat.
  3. A ton of makeup, or toiletries. You can always buy shampoo, soap, and most makeup at stores around campus when you get there.
  4. Textbooks. Unless it’s as thin as a book you’re reading for pleasure, it’s best to get these when you’re on campus. Plus, these make your bag more liable to be overweight if you’re traveling by plane.
  5. Food. Unless it’s plane snacks that you really need, don’t pack food. You’ll probably do a massive grocery trip once you’re back on campus, or you won’t really need any if you’re eating in meal hall.
  6. Lots of cooking or cleaning things. You can purchase these later on along with food, and usually in first year, you won’t need these as much. If you do purchase these items over the year, find somewhere to store them for summer.
  7. Heavy jackets, winter boots, or other seasonal attire. Since winter is over the school year, it can be tempting to pack all of your winter gear at once. My advice is to either get all those shipped to you right before the season changes, swap out seasonal clothes during trips home, or leave it in storage on campus.
  8. Lots of room decorations. As much as having a cute dorm room is great, I don’t recommend you pack a lot of decorations. Instead, buy them during the school year, and keep them in storage.

What do you guys usually pack or not pack, or what have I missed? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

-Mel.