Tag Archives: study habits

The importance of a Purdue Bucket List

By: Lindsay Piispanen

Lindsay,  on left, studying for finals with her roommate and best friend, Katie.
Lindsay, on left, studying for finals with her roommate and best friend, Katie.

As a brand new freshman at Purdue, I was extremely nervous about exam week before break. The nightmarish stories I had heard filled with constant studying and no sleep had me worried I might not survive until the end of finals. I had taken midterms, which were difficult, but having four exams in four days just felt overwhelming.

Not wanting to spend the entire finals week stressed out of my mind, my friends and I decided to make a bucket list. This bucket list provided some fun and happiness in the process of taking finals. Every day, we would complete at least one item on the bucket list. These items were either Purdue traditions or something enjoyable that we had always wanted to try. Some of the items we came up with were things like: a microwave Peep battle, watching a movie and eating an entire roll of cookie dough, and doing a fountain run. My personal favorite took place this past semester when we decided to combine two bucket list items into one – having an outdoor picnic and laying under the stars.

In the middle of exam week after completing an ENGR 142 exam and a PHYS 172 exam, most of us were worn out and our brains were fried. To refresh, we scheduled a bucket list item. We turned our picnic into a birthday party for the summer birthdays, and planned it late enough at night that we would be able to see the stars. To kick off the event, we got a cookie cake from Insomnia (chocolate chip topped with peanut butter cups), which was one of the best things I have ever eaten. We took it to Slayter Hill, and set up our towels/blankets to sit on. Once we had Taylor Swift playing from the Bluetooth speaker, we cut the cake and sang happy birthday. We ended up spending a few hours there, and it felt so nice to forget about stress and exams, even if it was just for a little while.

The bucket lists that we’ve made the past two semesters have definitely saved my sanity during exam week, because it gave me something to look forward to besides sleeping. So, to any incoming freshman, my advice is to make a list of fun things you want to do and make it a goal to check the items off your list during exam week to relieve some stress!

Study Notes from a Procrastinator

Everyone tells you that college is a lot of work, but if you’re anything like me, it’s tempting to think “maybe it was hard for that person, but it won’t be a problem for me.” (Conceited, I know, but I have to be honest with you if my experiences are going to help at all.) You may have excellent study habits in high school, and if you do, then congratulations, you’re on your way to success! Half the battle is building those habits.

I was the opposite of those incoming students with excellent study habits. I coasted through high school on minimal effort, not because I was genius level smart, but because I was lazy. My senior showcase essay for AP Composition was written about procrastination, since I didn’t start it until the night before it was due and I knew I could get away with it by crafting some clever sentences about how it was a fitting topic. I still remember the conclusion – a pretty lame Harry Potter joke, followed by the quip “I could think of a better analogy than Harry Potter, but it’s getting late and I have math homework to finish.”

As it turns out, engineering classes don’t accept jokes about popular culture in place of the correct answer, something I quickly learned upon arrival at Purdue. I’ll be honest – I was not a model student when it came to studying. Or finishing homework. Or going to class. As a matter of fact, I probably attended 50 percent of my Calc I classes. DO NOT DO THAT. I had taken calculus in high school and had gotten a good score on the AP test, but had decided to retake the class since I didn’t feel ready to move on to Calc II. “I can totally do this, Calc wasn’t even hard in high school” I rationalized every time I didn’t feel like waking up for class. The 37% I got on the second test of the year shocked me into studying, but by that point I had tanked my grade enough that I got a C in the class, which is not easy to admit.

I would argue that learning to study was my hardest assignment that first year. There was a lot of trial and error, and I learned that studying for hours if you’re distracted or if you’re studying things you don’t really need to review is not as effective as diligently focusing on the right things for a shorter amount of time. You have to find what works for you – I get by on my monstrous to-do lists, color coded calendars and by keeping myself busy, since I’m more likely to study if I know this is my only opportunity to do so.

I’m not going to pretend that I now have it all together, and frankly there are much better people to take study advice from. There are so many parts of my study habits that I am trying to improve upon, and I still fall into the trap of thinking I can handle more than I actually can. I also can’t pretend that the bad grade I received my first semester kicked me into gear and suddenly I studied diligently between classes from 8 AM to 6 PM (which is not a bad strategy, honestly); even my junior year of college, I stepped back and realized “yikes, I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing to study.” But the sooner you realize that you need to put consistent, dedicated time and effort into your classes, the better – your grades will improve, your stress levels will drop, and you can stop living entire days hopped up on deadline adrenaline. Procrastination feels good in the moment; a well-earned grade keeps you proud and confident for days.