In college, there tends to be a lot of required (or strongly recommended) reading. Whether there are regular reading quizzes, book reviews due, or information for finals, there is always something to read, and being able to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible is important. With that, here are my tips for reading through college-assigned books:
If you have a specific goal and a specific plan to go with it, your process will be far easier than trying to panic-read at the last minute. For example, if you have to read a 10 chapter book and write a 5 page response, and you have 6 weeks, until it’s due, you can break it up this way:
-Week 1. Read first 3 chapters, and make notes.
-Week 2. Read 3 more chapters, and make notes.
-Week 3. Finish book, and make notes on the last few chapters.
-Week 4. Compile your most important thoughts together.
-Week 5. Write your first draft, and get feedback from writing center and/or professor.
-Week 6. Edit and submit.
Compare the above plan to the no-plan version:
-Week 1. Read first chapter.
-Week 2. Do nothing.
-Week 3. Do nothing.
-Week 4. Do nothing.
-Week 5. Realize that the project is due. Do nothing.
-Week 6. Total panic and last minute cramming.
One of the quickest ways to ruin your reading time is getting distracted. Decide how much time you need to spend on reading, and set a timer for that long. Keep reading until you’re finished, or your timer goes off. During this time, have your phone/social stuff turned off or silenced, and don’t let yourself do anything else. Your focus will be so much stronger, and you’ll find that you get through reading much faster.
If I am in a seperate room from everyone, and just need to filter out weird sounds (say, the dishwasher, distant conversations, tea boiling), I like brown noise or rain sounds. If I’m in the room with other people, I like to do calming music with words to cover the sounds of conversations (typically something by Ella Fitzgerald). You might be different. This is a good time for experimenting. Try some soundtrack music one day, and white noise or something similar the next day. What works best for you? Don’t choose music that you want to start belting whenever you hear it; remember: the point is to be less distracted.
This will help with the first tip. If you’re writing a review, think about the main points, and whether or not you agree with them. If you’re writing for a test, think about what might me on said test. Also, pay extra attention to sections that relate to parts of lectures. If your professor talks about a specific composer, and your textbook has a section on that same composer, it may be worth a second read-through.
I will use a pencil and underline important quotes, write in questions or one-sentence thoughts, and other pertinent thoughts (thanks to Amy Crider for getting me started on this one!). Then, when I’m looking back at the book later, I can easily find what I want to talk about.
Underline or circle information or points that line up with your goal (see tip one of this section). With books that have exams coming up, for example, underline or circle important names, dates, and ideas, so that you can find it for studying later. This method saves much pain in the future, even if it seems weird at first.
There you have it. Those are my top tips for reading effectively for college. What are your favorite ways to read more effectively? I would love to hear about them in the comments section!
I love Tony Bennett’s interpretation of “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words).” He takes a typically peppy song, and makes it sweet and slow. This reflects the lyrics in a fresh way, transforming the song from the breathless romance in Sinatra’s an Buble’s versions to a soulful serenade. It begins with trepidation, but builds into a passionate plea, maintaining both simplicity and a feeling of completeness.
The orchestra is sparse, complementing Tony’s singing without overpowering it, almost as a duet. It contains a touch of saxophone, and a bit of strings, and a little jazzy piano, each one having a simple, slow part. Tony Bennet takes a typical song and makes it unique, which is truly inspiring for any aspiring cover artist or musician. Enjoy!
Thursdays are the longest days. By the time I finish school, my private music lessons, and teaching private lessons, I want nothing more than to go home and sleep. Often, I’m discouraged, and occasionally I’m just hungry.
This Thursday was much the same as many Thursdays. I was tired and ready for home, but the traffic at 5 mostly involved sitting. That’s when I first heard “Daydream Believer.”
The song opens with Davy Jones singing of the troubles of the working person, who must leave fantasies and dreams to go to work. But the songs turns to a celebration of a positive attitude. He chooses to be a daydream believer, who lives life looking forward, rather than dwelling on things that he has to leave or things that he doesn’t have.
This is the way that I want to live. I don’t have to choose between dreaming and living. There are certainly sad things in life, but I don’t want to spend every waking hour dwelling on them and worrying.
Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy the Thursday drive home. Instead of wishing that I was at home, I try to enjoy the time I have sitting. Thursdays are still long, but they don’t have to be discouraging too.
I put goals in two categories. Either they are passing successes (only achieved if I complete the goal exactly as I had it written) or they are a total failure. Since I seldom deem anything perfect, my goal evaluations are mostly negative and discouraging.
I don’t want this to happen this year. I want to look at 2017 honestly. I want to enjoy the success and learn from the downfalls. So that’s what I’m going to do today. Here’s how I did on my goals from 2017:
Overall, I did well on my goals. I have room to improve, and successes to celebrate, and I’m ready to move on to a few new goals. The biggest problem I had in 2017 was having too many goals to balance, so I’ve decided to cut back from so many year-long goals and try a few quarterly goals. Here are my three goals for January, February, and March of 2018:
What are your 2018 goals? I would love to hear about them in the comments!
My dad introduced this song to me several years ago. I love it because it’s clever and unpredictable, but still pleasant to hear. I love A Capella groups, and this adds in an element of fun to a classic holiday song. Enjoy!
The live version:
The non-live version:
This week is my first week off from school (yay!), so I decided to go through a large box of papers that has been growing for years. I expected to just get rid of old school papers and laugh at all of the things I thought I would still need in 10 years. I was completely surprised.
Since I was old enough to keep papers, I kept many cards that people gave me. Some are for Birthdays, some are get-well cards or thank-you cards, and some are just-thinking-about-you notes. At the time, I kept them because I wanted to have a lot of papers and be mature, but now I’m realize just how valuable these cards are to me.
Some of the cards are from people that I haven’t seen in several
years; some are from people that I see every day. But even the ones from people I may never see again are encouraging to me. My teacher wrote me a thank-you card in French for a plant that I got her at the end of the year. I haven’t seen her since I stopped taking French (3 years ago), but the card reminded me that I could do crazy things, like learn French, and reminded me of my desire to travel to new places.
The cards from my family help me to appreciate them more. My brother David used to write me sweet notes all of the time just to be sweet, and reading them again reminds me to love my siblings every day, not just on special occasions or when I feel like it.
Finding these cards encouraged me to write cards intentionally. They don’t just represent days that people are obligated to write cards. They represent relationships, people who care enough to take time out of their lives to encourage someone else. They are wonderful on the day you receive them, but can also be treasured years down the road.
If you’re a card-writer, be encouraged. You might have even more impact than you realize. If you’re not, now would be a good time to start.
This Italian art song is one of my voice songs for this semester, and my favorite so far. I usually listen to the version by Cecilia Bartoli and Gyorgy Fischer.
“Se Tu M’ami” (“If You Love Me,” in English) is unrequited love from the other side. The singer is being pursued by a shepherd, and she likes him and finds his favor wonderful. She is sorry for his suffering over her, but she doesn’t think that he’s her only option. It’s clever and emotional, and I like listening to the music in another language. Enjoy!
This week is my fall break. I’m looking forward to enjoying some out of the ordinary activities, but I don’t want to let break fly by without accomplishing anything or getting proper rest. I often end up frustrated because I’m either not doing enough or I’m doing to much. So this break, I’m planning out what I’m going to do more than I have in the past. I’ve organized the things I want to do into three categories:
This is one of my favorite duets of all time. My mom showed it to me a while ago, and I still love listening to it. Dan Hill has done this song with several chicks (it’s most famous with Vonda Shepherd), but I love the Celine Dion version.
Can’t We Try has so much passion, and it tells a tragic but hopeful story. The harmonies are phenomenal, and I just love Celine Dion’s voice!