Today was the beginning of Tuesday Magazine’s annual poster sale (go buy your posters in front of the science center all week, selection available at tuesdaymagazine.org [yes, that was a shameless self-plug]).
And I got ridiculously sunburned, which is stupid, because I’m a supposedly well-educated person who knows that sunscreen is worth its weight in preventative gold.
College gets the best of you sometimes, so here are a few common sense things you should keep in mind.
I worked for what is now known as the “Q Guide” one summer. I read many a review, tallied comments, double checked reviews, and pondered grammar. During that time, I learned many things about the inner workings of that review.
While it is easy to just read the paragraphs and accept them at face value, you really need to dig a little deeper to understand a given review in its context.
Here are a few tips to to best understand the Q Guide to help you decide which courses to shop and take.
Harvard offers its students a stressful luxury known as Shopping Period. This is the time where students bounce from lecture to lecture, grabbing syllabi and wondering if they can stay awake for a given professor.
It’s a prime opportunity to pick core classes, figure out which math class you want to survive, and decide on whether you can survive on Flyby lunches for a semester.
There are a number of ways to keep on top of shopping period in order to optimize your new courses without getting too bogged down.
Freshmen are greeted by a 1000+ page book detailing all the courses they could possibly take (and many that they’ve never heard of) in the fall. Contrast this to even the course selection at the largest and most awesome high schools, and many a freshmen sort of freeze up, freak out at narrowing down what they want to do with their life, major, career and beyond!
While I can’t tell you whether to take that Psych 1 (yes the numbers start low here) class or that freshmen seminar, there are a few basic rules you can follow to make your life easier and narrow down your selection.
Course selection for freshmen should be primarily directed toward concentration exploration and workload/difficulty balance.
Suppose you have a paper due the last week of classes. You can plan to handle that paper in a few ways:
- Closing your eyes and dealing with it the week before
- Planning your next steps
- OR, planning backwards from that deadline
How often do you miss your own deadlines? You’ll say to yourself, ahh, I have time, I can start researching this next week! But soon, the weeks close in, and you’re left cramming everything together at the last minute in your dining hall, with a large cup of joe.
Next time you have an important project, try planning backwards from the deadline.
One of the best pieces of advice that freshmen receive is: Do not try to plan out your four-year academic career. This piece of advice will be tucked away in that guidebook that freshmen get, in a section addressing course selection and academics.
The guidebook will then continue in a reassuring tone: Just make sure you’re taking the classes you need to take in order to set yourself up properly for your classes next year.
As I’m looking forward to my junior, senior years and my career plans, I’m realizing just how wise that advice is.
There’s no need to stress yourself out by planning each detail of your life.
In a previous post, I examined ways of organizing your busy busy Harvard life. At the time, I didn’t have a good “To Do List” or task management organizer for you.
Now, I am proud to recommend Todoist.com
Todoist is a website that allows you to create To Do Lists (complete with deadlines and project breakdowns) that would make any dork envious.
Although every Harvard student wants to write “Be the BEST at EVERYTHING” on his or her new semester resolutions list, this isn’t obviously, a realistic goal.
Instead, take these resolutions as a time to focus your energies on aspects of your life that need improvement. If your list is too scattered, you might as well not have a list at all.
Before you get back on campus, take a few minutes to reflect on your priorities/goals and strengths/weaknesses to kick your semester off with the right perspective.