21 January 2013
It is only at this point in the year, with midterm exams over and the first semester out of the way, that it truly begins to dawn on you how short the academic year can feel in university. Semesters are around a whole month shorter than in secondary school, leading to the end of the academic year (for most) in April, 2 months before the conclusion of the secondary school year. As second semester beckons, the assignments begin to come in more fast and furious than before, as university professors, knowing that your learning curve is finally over after the first semester, begin to show you the full force of university life. You go from having one or two papers to worry about to worrying about multiple assignments. Reading assignments begin to become heavier as university professors begin to hope that you have mastered the art of speed-reading. Coming back after a 2 week holiday with very little in the way of work, getting back into the swing of things so quickly and forcefully can be a bit of a shock, and it certainly is much easier to begin to fall behind than it is to keep up.
At the end of winter break, one should not come back to class with the expectation of being eased back in, as is sometimes done in secondary school. The shorter academic year in university does not lend itself to such “easing in”, but rather demands work from the get-go. This level of work will demand that you find some sort of way of managing your readings. Thankfully, the intelligent and diligent student is able to plan ahead in such a way that eventually, all the readings get done. Here’s a little secret they don’t want you to know, everyone falls behind a little bit sometimes on the readings, the trick is being able to catch up once the workload gets lighter. One should not attempt to blast through the readings in one sitting with little or no comprehension, because this could only qualify as wasted time. When you read, you should try and ensure that you are in a condition in which you can comprehend and reproduce all that you have read. And when the workload gets lighter, it is vitally important that you use that opportunity to play a little bit of catch up if you were a bit behind on the last week’s readings.
Ideally, you’d read everything on time for all your classes, this is the best-case scenario and leaders to the easiest time when lectures and discussion groups roll around. But there will be times when you can’t complete all the readings, and then you must remember the adage that doing something is better than doing nothing and doing good quality work is worth much more than doing a great quantity of it. Remember these tenets, and you’ll eventually get the hang of keeping up.