Now that you have your clothing, backpack and reusable bento lunch box all sorted out, you’re set for the year, right? Not so fast. No matter how prepared you think you are, there’s always an opportunity to improve, and one way is to utilize your technical knowledge to get better grades.
With classrooms becoming increasingly digital, both teachers and students depend on technology to amplify the learning experience. It’s important to leverage every advantage available, so here are a few tips:
1. Use the right tools to take handwritten notes
Numerous studies, and academic experts, agree on one crucial point: taking handwritten notes helps students retain more information as opposed to simply typing them out. Whether you use a traditional pen and notebook, or a Livescribe smartpen (add a Moleskine in for extra style), you should be writing down key points worth remembering. For traditional analog note taking, use a smartphone or camera to take a photo of your notes as a backup – in case your notebook gets misplaced. If you’re using a smartpen, all your notes are backed up on your favorite devices. One more advantage of Livescribe smartpens is the ability to record written notes and recorded audio so you can easily reference what you’re trying to learn.
2. Back up all of your information
Let’s face it: technology isn’t bulletproof. Bugs, crashes, and errors still plague the software and systems we rely on to get work done. If your computer shorts out and your information isn’t backed up, it could mean the difference between success and failure in one or all of your classes. Services such as Crashplan start at $50 per year and run in the background, constantly backing up everything on your hard drive. Dropbox and Google Drive are strong alternative options for storing files in the cloud. If privacy is a concern, an external hard drive is an affordable back up plan. Of course, Apple’s iCloud is a useful service. With any backup solution, use a strong password and two-factor authentication if offered.
3. Organize your notes and to-do lists
There’s a lot to keep track of in school. From various classes, quizzes, and major exams to extracurricular activities, life can get hectic. Staying organized is crucial for thriving. For those who prefer writing things down, Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal system is an effective way to prioritize tasks, events, and ideas. Evernote, on the other hand, is a digital planner’s dream come true. You can clip online articles, take photos, transfer your handwritten notes and, as an added bonus, transform those notes into an aesthetically pleasing presentation on the fly.
4. Research and rate your teachers
RateMyProfessors.com is a user-generated resource consisting of ratings and reviews of over 1.3 million professors from 7,000+ schools. Picking a class time can be tough enough. Identifying the right teacher can make all the difference in the long-term. Because these are personal opinions, they should be interpreted as just that – someone’s unique perspective. Still, the more information you have, the better equipped you are to make choices that best suit your needs. RateMyProfessors.com also compiles all their data into lists so you can discover, for example, what the top-rated Community Colleges are or which professors won a Nobel Prize.
5. Take advantage of your student discount
Quite possibly the biggest advantage of having a student ID card and email address is the incredible savings you get on some must-have technology products. Adobe offers 60% off on their suite of creative products including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Illustrator. Microsoft’s student portal grants students free Skype group calls and, for those who qualify, free access to Office 365. Apple offers up to $200 savings on Macbooks, a critical tool for those who are especially creative. These discounts add up which is why it’s also recommended to hold onto your ID even after you graduate.
What tech-savvy tips do you have to share? Let us know in the comments section below.