As the semester reaches the halfway point (eek!) and classes are piling on the workload, those study habits you promised yourself you’d follow at the beginning of the semester are probably beginning to fade.
For me at least, it’s right around this time of the semester that I am tempted to abandon all order and scheduling in favor of stressful cramming.
In the spirit of a crazy busy semester, here are some of my best study tips!
1. Figure out what works for you. There are so many great ways to study, but none of them will work if they’re not right for you. Some people love flashcards, some people use highlighters, and everyone works better in different environments. The important thing is that you find out what works for you. So try some different techniques, pay attention to how well they’re working, and stick with what you like and what works the best.
2. Sleep is KEY. Pulling an all-nighter always seems like a good idea, but it never works out that way. Not only is it unhealthy, but chances are your Philosophy professor won’t be able to make sense of a paper you wrote at three in the morning. Set a cut-off time for yourself and stick to it, regardless of what you’ve finished.
3. Make a motivating playlist. Listening to music while you study is very subjective – it’s helpful for some people and distracting for others. But once you’ve figured out if it’s helpful for you, choose your music wisely! I prefer instrumental tracks, because lyrics can be distracting, but some people find inspirational or worship music more motivating. Take a couple minutes before your study session to make a playlist that works for you, but don’t get too distracted crafting the perfect selection.
4. Take Breaks. No one can work non-stop. Some people take better breaks when they schedule them in between tasks, and some people prefer timing out intervals of studying and breaks. Either way, giving your brain a rest for a couple minutes is important. [NOTE: This is not the same as keeping a Facebook tab open while reading a chapter of your History text book. Taking “breaks” in between each paragraph isn’t helpful, it’s distracting.]
5. Fuel. The temptation is strong, especially during midterms or finals, to “get through” a long night of homework with endless energy drinks and junk food. Carbonated caffeine and processed chocolate might sound like a good idea at midnight, but you’ll regret it during your 10 a.m. exam. Instead, drink lots of water, eat healthy snacks at well-spaced intervals, and resist the call of the vending machine.
6. Find a place. While some people can study in groups or with other people, for most of us, getting away from distractions is a must! I’ve learned that my room is generally too busy and noisy, but the library is a great place to find a quiet corner to zone the outside world out.
7. Tell yourself the truth. During a stressful week of exams, papers, and projects, it can start to feel like the world revolved around your GPA. Tell yourself the truth that God is in control. Stress and worry are reflective of a larger problem: a lack of trust that God’s sovereignty means He’s got it all under control. If we truly believed that He is bigger than any of our problems, we’d gain a much different perspective, even in those last-minute cramming sessions.
Last week was a special week at Liberty – Global Focus Week!
Liberty hosted a variety of speakers at Convocation that challenged us to expand our focus and respond to God’s command to make disciples of all the nations.
My favorite part of this year’s Global Focus Week was definitely Nik Ripken.
Nik’s message was powerful in its honesty and directness – he spoke about how tragedies he’s witnessed and injustices he’s seen have made him want to take an “Old Testament” approach of retaliation and revenge. He was honest in his struggle with people that have hurt him and the people he cares about. But more importantly, he shared how God challenged him to gain a new perspective for these people – that they are lost and without a Savior. Nik’s message was so inspiring to me; not only did his message speak to the calling we each have to reach the lost, but it reminds us of an essential truth – we are sinners. We don’t deserve Jesus’ saving death and resurrection any more than people that are still lost. Nik may have been talking about militant groups in Somalia, but it’s still applicable to those of in school stateside. What makes God’s grace so incredible isn’t that we are good people that deserve it – it’s the opposite! Never let yourself be tricked into thinking you’re not in desperate need of a Savior. It’s only when I’m reminded of that critical reality that we begin to experience the fullness of God’s amazing grace in our lives.
I’m working on that this week – living in His amazing grace, and giving Him praise for it.
I don’t know many college students that want to voluntarily wake up at 5:00 on a Sunday morning.
But that’s what some members of Liberty’s Debate Team did this weekend!
We woke up ridiculously early to hike up to the Monogram and watch the sunrise.
The view from the top of the monogram as Lynchburg wakes up!
It was a foggy morning, so we didn’t really get a spectacular view, but it was still warm and beautiful.
Our group of early morning hikers!
We hiked up to the Monogram and spent some time in reflection, the Word, and prayer.
Reading and gathering in prayer.
It was a beautiful way to spend time together as a team – enjoying the Lord’s creation on the beautiful campus we’ve been blessed with.
Selfies at the monogram!
One debater, Mary, also decided we needed to try a special prayer she had learned – you can take a look at our (somewhat silly) attempt at letting everyone in Lynchburg know Jesus loves them at 6:00 in the morning!
We had a lovely time taking advantage of everything Liberty’s campus has to offer and reorienting our day towards the only One who deserves our undivided focus.
Enjoying the beautiful view from the top!
Hopefully, as school work continues to pile up, and we begin our competitive debate season, we will keep this mindset and this practice of beginning every day dedicating it to our Lord that graciously gives it to us.
After a long day of classes, exams, and homework, sometimes you really need a little chocolate!
Although I live on East Campus (and have a kitchen) now, my first two years at Liberty I lived on a regular residence hall without that convenience. So when my roommates and I were in desperate need of chocolate stress relief, we would dream of conquering the DIY staple: the mug cake.
This weekend my roommates and I decided to give it a try, and bake some mug cakes, as well as some mini cheesecakes for our dear friend’s birthday.
Our finished mini cheesecakes!
This was quite the baking endeavor – we were making four different recipes at once: Oreo cheesecakes, strawberry cheesecakes, and two types of mug cake – yellow cake and chocolate hazelnut!
Amanda checking out the baking cheesecakes!
Claire stirring up the cheesecake batter!
After successful completion of the cheesecakes, we began our work on the mug cakes.
Kaitlyn’s Guide to Mug Cakes
(You can find the recipe we used here.)
This cake took about ten minutes to prepare, and takes less than two minutes in the microwave.
Ana mixing in the most important ingredient: chocolate!
Stirring up the mug cake batter!
Cooking the chocolate cake!
The finished product!
Ana testing out the first mug cake!
Our bakers’ thoughts:
Claire: “A little dry.”
Ana: “It’s not bad, it just doesn’t taste like anything.”
Amanda: “Can I just have more chocolate?”
Verdict: The best part is the chocolate drop on top. We should have cooked it a little less and used a larger mug to make it cook more evenly. Overall, it’s not the greatest cake, but is a good option for desperate bakers without ovens!
Here’s the recipe we used:
(Makes two mug cakes)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) self-rising flour
Place the butter in a large mug and microwave it for 20 to 30 seconds until melted. Add the egg and whisk it in with a fork. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and sugar. Add the flour and salt. Beat the batter until smooth. Divide the batter between two mugs. Microwave separately for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes each until risen and firm.
Our bakers’ thoughts:
Claire: “This one is really good!”
Ana: “I like this one a lot better – it actually tastes like cake!”
Amanda: “I like this one!”
Verdict: This one was delicious – it cooked well and could be used with a variety of fun toppings.
Overall, we had a fantastic day baking all of our creations. We learned a lot about the logistics of mug cakes and how to make them even more delicious the next time we have a cake craving!
Amanda, Meagan and Ana having a great time baking!
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my first two years at Liberty is this: prioritize people. I’m not always the best at this, but I’ve learned that one of the first things to go when life gets busy is investing in the people in your life. This year, I wanted to make it a point to spend time with important people in my life and cultivate better relationships with them. So last week, some of my friends from my church back home and I got together to get dinner after our classes.
My dear friends and I - Lauren, me, Angela, and Kaya.
These girls are so special to me – not only for how much I love each of them individually, but for how their presence at Liberty feels like an extension of my wonderful church family back home.
I love these girls.
Sometimes it’s easy at school to get caught up in your own little world – whether that’s your major, your sport, your hall, or for me, debate. But I’m learning that it’s so important to open your eyes to the people God has put in your path and be a good steward of those gifts of relationship. My mentor recently told me that a friend of hers keeps lists of her weekly goals, and that she always includes a list for relationships. I love the spirit behind that – prioritizing and being intentional about the relationships in your life.
As the semester gets going and homework and other responsibilities pile up, I hope and pray that everyone will keep their relationships a priority!
John 13:35 (NIV)
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.