Going to college can be difficult at any stage, but it’s definitely the most difficult when you’re a freshman and brand new to the life of college. Here are some helpful studying tips for freshmen at UMD!
1. Learn how to navigate Elms.
Elms is the online platform professors here use as a way to communicate with students. If you learn how to navigate Elms, you should be able to access any files, notes, or PowerPoints that the professor uploads. Not every professor uploads helpful files, but many will post review guides and notes that may save you if you missed a day of class or you just need some additional practice with the material. Yeah, you know that site your high school used to use? Say goodbye… sorry about that.
2. Make friends in your classes.
Don’t be shy! If you make friends in your classes, it will prove to be super helpful when it gets close to exam time. If you miss classes, they may be willing to send you their notes and before exams they may be willing to help you study, and if you don’t understand something, they can explain it to you. One great way to study is by explaining the concepts to someone else. If you can teach someone else, you can answer a question about it on the test. Definitely a great one to add to your studying tips for freshmen at UMD list!
3. Join the GroupMe group chats.
Oftentimes, someone in the class will send a message to everyone in the class through Elms that there’s a GroupMe. FOLLOW THE LINK. Join the group, you will appreciate it later! It may blow up your phone before exams and paper due dates, but you’ll appreciate it when you can’t figure out what #2 is on the study guide, and someone else can. Also this is another great way to get a studying group together before an exam. If nobody creates one for you class, take the initiative and start it yourself!
4. Learn to make use of McKeldin.
McKeldin is a magical place with so many resources, use it!!! If you prefer to study where there are people and it’s loud, stick to the first two floors (if you can find a spot). Fourth floor has the reading room, which looks like libraries that come out of movies. It’s absolutely gorgeous, so check that out. If you need to borrow any chargers, calculators, laptops or anything like that, there’s a desk for that! They also have exercise equipment, so if you’re taking a break, definitely take advantage of that. It’s good for your brain!
5. Go to office hours with your professors.
All professors here are required to have office hours. This is a time when professors guarantee they’ll be in their office throughout the week so students can come ask them questions about the material. Having a personal relationship with your teacher could help you get an inside scoop on a test, or it could help you get a few points back on the test if there’s something that’s iffy. Take the time to get to know your professors and be sure to let them know if you have any questions.
6. Give yourself enough time to absorb all the information.
Sorry to break it to you, but this isn’t high school anymore. There are many classes that meet two to three times a week for class, have four or more assigned readings a week and have intermittent papers throughout the semester. Make sure you start studying early because you don’t want to get behind or have to cram. Unlike high school, you don’t have a test every chapter. Some classes will only give you two exams throughout the whole semester. Which sounds great until you realize how much pressure is on each one of these exams. Plan ahead!
7. Change up the scenery.
Don’t shut yourself in your room for 12 hours at a time to study, or stay at the same desk in McKeldin for 6 hours on a Tuesday, you will burn out. There are so many places to study on campus, you need to make sure you’re keeping yourself in a good mental state and keeping yourself refreshed. If you just adventure a little bit, you can find some great study spots. On a nice day, studying in McKeldin, on the picnic tables scattered around campus or a table in Hornbake Plaza is refreshing. During the winter when that isn’t so pleasant there are still so many places to go. Check out the study lounges in your dorm, make use of the different floors in McKeldin, spend some time studying in the dining hall or in the Edward St. John’s building (truly the most beautiful building on campus).
8. Take advantage of the free tutoring available.
People on campus want to build their resumes and raise their grades. Take advantage of the free tutors and resources! Go to tutoring.umd.edu and find the class that you are having an exam in and schedule a tutoring session. If you have a paper due, make sure to check out the writing center and schedule an appointment.
9. Hold yourself accountable.
You might have been told that in college you don’t have to show up to class. This is true… for some classes. Not everyone will take attendance, especially in some of the bigger lectures you may have, especially at the beginning, but don’t skip class! If you start to skip that 9:30 just a few times because you’re tired, it will become a habit, and it will stress you out when you realize your exam is right around the corner. You’re paying for your education, so you need to hold yourself accountable.
10. Sacrifice to Testudo.
If you need some extra luck on your test, make sure to rub Testudo’s nose on your way by McKeldin. Or better yet, sacrifice something to him. Buy him a drink, sacrifice some pencils. Around finals season, Testudo is covered with things like flowers, pens, drinks, alcohol, there’s even a story that floats around about somebody sacrificing a couch one year. Moral of the story is: be good to Testudo, and good will come to you!
University of Maryland is far from a perfect school. But, academics is really an area in which they make sure they are supporting you, providing you with resources and rooting for your success. If you’re struggling, reach out to someone. They want you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed! All of this information may be helpful to you, but don’t forget, at the end of the day what matters is how you take care of yourself. Before exams make sure you are well rested and thinking positively. You can do this!