Welcome back! Today I will share my (limited) wisdom about academic pressure. I hope some of this advice is useful for you!
Use the expertise of other students
Talk to other 2nd and 3rd year students who have taken your courses already to get advice from them on what the exams are like and what you need to focus on during your preparation, i.e. whether you need to focus more on your notes from lectures/ just the content from the PowerPoint slides from class/ the readings assigned for this class. Furthermore, some 2nd and 3rd year students can even lend you notes from old classes or let you look at old Lab reports!
While it would certainly further your knowledge in many courses, doing 70 page readings that are merely recommended and not required is not a very good use of your time. Readings which you will have quizzes on always have priority over regular required readings and required readings have priority over recommended readings. Most professor will say that all of their readings are mandatory and absolutely crucial in order to understand their course but if you want to stay sane and manage your work load then it is just not feasible to read every single reading very closely and take notes on them. It will take a bit of a trial and error period at the beginning of the semester for you to figure out what to prioritize but you’ll eventually figure it out and this will take a lot of pressure off your back. Another helpful thing to do sometimes is to first read the abstract and the conclusion of an academic paper to first see what the important aspects are.
Try not to procrastinate
I know from personal experience that eliminating procrastination completely is impossible. All of us have been there: one minute you have to look up the functions of Mitochondria on Google and a split second later you’re watching a YouTube conspiracy video on why the Pope is in reality a giraffe. If you know that you tend to procrastinate maybe try anti-procrastination websites. Here you usually enter a website or several websites and an amount of time and then your browser prevents you from visiting these websites for this specific amount of time (not very useful for computer science students as I hear that it’s pretty easy to overwrite!). Another useful thing you can do against procrastination is to study with friends and tell them about your goals for that study session as they can hold you accountable and help you not to procrastinate.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Realize that everybody is on their own journey. You will encounter students in your courses who will put huge amounts of pressure on themselves to always get only the best grades possible. Likewise, there will be students who are very competitive in their academic efforts, causing a negative classroom atmosphere. Please don’t fall into the trap of joining this competition or trying to constantly compare yourself to these or to other people. Every person has a different motivation for studying at Jacobs – every person also has a different journey ahead of them after Jacobs. Just do the best you can, work hard and your efforts will pay off!
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
And lastly: don’t be ashamed of seeking help
Despite all of your efforts to manage your course work, sometimes academic pressure can really get to you. Don’t worry, this can happen to anyone! Just make sure that you reach out to people and let them know that you’re struggling. You can talk to your professors directly about classes and projects, you can talk to your academic advisor and you can also talk to the counselling center!
Jacobs University Counseling Center: www.counseling.user.jacobs-university.de
For an insight into Part 1: the teachers’ perspective, follow this link: http://admissionsblog.user.jacobs-university.de/?p=1392