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Getting ready for math-related classes in the new semester: Part 2

Watch out math courses, here you come!
Published by Julia Lane

Missed Part-1? Check it out here

  Perfect your study space

Studying for quantitative classes requires intense concentration and prolonged sitting. Get a comfortable, spacious and ergonomic desk in a properly lit room that suits your desired noise level. Find a “go-to” study spot on campus where foot traffic is low. My favourite place to study on the Burnaby campus was the first floor of the Bennett Library. It is very quiet and often has seats available.

Schedule in breaks

Get a timer to remind yourself to take breaks and drink water every 15-20 minutes. Lethargy and dehydration are two of the worst enemies of productivity, so make sure that you get up regularly and walk around for a couple minutes while drinking plenty of water. Try to avoid coffee or soft drinks – they can cause dehydration.

  Use a book stand

One of the best investments that I ever made in university was a book stand. Before buying one, I had to hunch over to read my textbooks – this caused neck strain and reduced blood flow to my head, hastening fatigue. By reading a book in an (almost) vertical position, I can keep my head in its natural upright position. This subtle adjustment made studying a lot more pleasurable and improved my productivity significantly.

Scrap paper is your best friend

Reading and studying from a textbook requires a lot of writing of definitions, theorems, proofs, expressions, equations and calculations. Prepare a thick stack of scrap paper on your desk and a paper recycling box within an arm’s reach. To reduce wasted paper, I often gathered stacks from the large recycling boxes near printers and photocopiers in the library or computer labs.

  Get help

If you're struggling with workload and need to improve your study skills, visit SFU's Student Learning Commons. You can attend workshops, book one-on-one appointments, or use its online resources for tips on topics such as time management, exam preparation and how to approach quantitative courses.

Take care of yourself

Set a regular routine for sleeping, eating, relaxing and exercising. Your brain will absorb concepts a lot better when you are well nourished and alert. Studying for one hour with a healthy brain is far more productive than studying for two hours with a sleep-deprived brain.

Self-care is one of the most neglected aspects in students’ lives, and it’s a lot harder to correct bad habits in the middle of a semester. Take advantage of the time at the start of the semester to establish a good routine before the onslaught of assignments and midterms becomes overwhelming. The SFU Health and Counselling Services Blogoffers many tips and resources.

  When you're feeling down

Your life may already be stressful with personal and professional obstacles, and challenging math-oriented classes can exacerbate that stress. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the pressure, consider attending SFU Health and Counselling Servicesworkshops or speak with one of their trained Counsellors. Even with my success at SFU, there were times when I felt overwhelmed by the stresses of my coursework, and I found the counselling services to be very helpful.

- Eric Cai 

Want to know more about Eric? Read his In Common welcome interview here

ruler, calculator, pencil

* A version of this post previously appeared on the SFU Careers Blog ENGAGE. Re-posted with thanks! 


Image credits: 

Math by Victoria from the Noun Project