Today I want to talk about a distinctly ‘Warwick’ phenomenon, something that I really struggled to get over in first year and still have to deal with even today. It’s something that can be easily illustrated by looking at a Facebook conversation I would typically have with ‘Student X’ on Sunday nights in first year:… ….
I’ve done nothing at all this weekend- have you started that Medieval Economy essay?
Nah, I was out all weekend, so I haven’t done anything either. I’m supposed to be going out tonight as well, so not sure when I’m going to have time.
I’m so worried too! I’m not gonna have time to do any of this! What about the reading for tomorrow’s seminar?
Nope, I haven’t done anything
Everyone knows what happens next. You leave conversation feeling reassured and with a new found sense of solidarity between you and your fellow slacker. However, come Monday morning, when you turn up noteless and give that little nod or wink of acknowledgement to Student X, he will inevitably whack out a wad of notes on the seminar reading thicker than War and Peace and will probably get an 81 on that Medieval Economy essay too.
It’s a quintessentially-Warwick gripe; a timeless drama that can be seen playing out in the Library, lecture halls, and cafes across campus. Everyone at Warwick knows a Student X- that one guy or girl, who goes out every other night, never seems to do any work, but is on top of everything. They must have twenty extra hours in the day or something because you never see them working that hard, but they ace every test, essay and assignment. Some people just seem to have all the fun and manage to do all the work. So for all you slackers like me, here are five tips on how to get ahead and be more Student X:
1. Spend time in the Library… but actually use it to work
I used to spend all my time in the Library with multiple Student Xs but never seemed to get ahead. Compared to the amount of time that they spent in the Library I should have been doing double the work. But whilst I spent half my time goofing off in the Reading Lounge, sending Snapchats or compulsively refreshing my newsfeed, they were probably slaving away behind the scenes. I have a friend who keeps a timer on his desk in the library and stops it every time he stops to chat or check his facebook. This way you get an accurate indication of how much you are actually working. Why waste time in the library not working when you could be doing something fun?
2. Get a diary
Organising and planning your time effectively is essential to becoming more like a Student X. Student Xs know all their deadlines, when they are going out and how much time they need to do the work. Making sure you leave yourself enough time to complete an assignment before you go out is essential. I often used to lie in bed all day and then stay in that evening to do the work or go out and not do the work. Student Xs will have got up earlier that morning to make sure that they can do both. Get a diary or a calendar- it doesn’t matter, just make sure you use it.
3. Manage your resources
Do you think Student X would turn up to a seminar with the wrong notes or wouldn’t be able to get hold of the reading? Hell No! As well as making sure you have everything you need to work, ensure that you use all the resources at your disposal. If that library book you need for this week’s reading is out, put a hold on it. If you are stuck on your essay, email your tutor. Small habits like these may sound obvious to Student Xs but in my first year the idea of emailing a tutor for help seemed like veritable academic suicide.
4. Develop routines
This is possibly the hardest thing to achieve as a student. Spontaneous nights out, hangovers, essays and an inherently irregular working week mean that creating a routine and sticking to it is nearly impossible as a student. However simple things, such as getting up the same time each day instead of lying in on Tuesdays because you have no lectures, can make the world of difference. My friends and I have lunch every day of the week in the same place at one o’clock. This means that I am forced to be up and in the Library by at least one o’clock every day. Little things like this, or anything that can infuse your days with a sense of rhythm and order set you up to be far more productive with your time.
5. Have fun
No-one is asking you to become the world’s biggest party pooper and spend all your time in the Library- Student Xs certainly don’t. The upside of having such clear distinctions between work time and leisure is that your down time is all the more rewarding when you can enjoy it without worrying about what you should be doing. So sit back, relax and watch that entire series of Breaking Bad with none of the guilt.
There you have it, five ways to become more ‘Student X’. Hopefully now everyone can benefit from the ways and means of this mysterious breed of students.
Are you a Student X? Or are you constantly struggling to make the grade? What other ways do you have of keeping up with them? Let me know in the comments below.
Image: Barcelona underground subway/Jordi Boixareu/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Thank you dear Stephen, we needed someone like you to gather in one place the tips for study success and having fun. Good point with no.4, the routines are hard to get but they’re the most rewarding.