10 Ways to stay on top of your School Work – University of Iowa

Still looking for those helpful study tips in college? Look no further! Here is how to stay on top of your classes:

1.) Go to lecture

  • Even if it is that dreaded 8am lecture, or even if it prerecorded, go to your lecture or watch it on time. You can’t study without knowing what material you need to study. Going to lecture will help with any initial questions you may have with the material you are learning, because you can simply raise your hand, send a quick email to your professor, or ask your teaching assistant or learning assistant to get a better understanding of what is going on.
  • Rewatching pre-recorded lectures is also a great habit to get into if you are stuck on some of the “basics” of the material you are learning. Sometimes it just takes a time or two hearing things to get material to “click” in your brain.

2.) Take notes in lecture and discussion

  • Writing helps improve memory on concepts, so write down what you learn. This way you can also refer back to a concept quickly if you forget.
  • Discussion sessions typically review material, but every once in a while, someone may mention something that is unfamiliar. Write it down! It may come in handy if you get stuck on the concept later on.

3.)  Attend Supplemental Instruction (SI)

  • Supplemental Instruction is a program offered by the University of Iowa that helps you study or review material and become better equipped or prepared for a course. You can attend any supplemental instruction section any time it is offered. You simply come and go as needed.
  • Currently, to attend supplemental instruction, everything is online. Check out when sessions are here.

4.) Attend Office Hours or Drop-In Hours

  • Office hours or “drop-in” hours are held by all professors and teaching assistants at the University of Iowa. Attending these are a great resource to not only get to know your professor, but also get your questions answered.
  • During the pandemic, most of these office hours are held over Zoom. Not many people utilize this resource as much as it is offered, so I’m sure professors would love someone to talk to rather than waiting alone in a Zoom call!

5.) Homework

  • Yes, college is more studying than tedious and seemingly meaningless homework assignments, but when homework is assigned, do it and take your time!
  • Homework in college is mostly to review a concept that is commonly struggled with, so utilize the assignment to study the concept itself.

6.) Extra Practice

  • In addition to homework, extra practice is commonly offered. Extra practice is a great resource to use even if you feel like you understand the material, because it often is a true test of understanding and can predict how well you do on your next exam.
  • A little extra practice has never hurt anyone, and it is a great topic to bring up during office hours because it shows your professor you are dedicated to learning the material.

7.) Extra material

  • Sometimes professors offer extra reading material to students. Although it is not material that is graded, it somehow relates to the concept that is being taught. Reading through this material is a great way to study the topic you are learning and getting tested on, because it forces you to expand your view on the focused concept and find overlapping topics with your course.
  • This is also another great topic to bring up in office hours. Professors would not include extra material if they did not find value in it. Since it is not taught in class, talking about it during office hours generally is something they enjoy because they can expand your knowledge.

8.) Review

  • Reviewing your own notes consistently helps tremendously. Review what you learned right after you learn it, at the end of the day, and within a week of learning it is a strategy I try to use to make sure I don’t forget material or cram all of my studying into one day.
  • Reviewing over time also helps when it is time for chapter tests, midterms, or finals, because you don’t have to study as long or cram in much information quickly.

9.) Group Study

  • Studying with your peers is a great way to find out if you missed out on a concept, and it is also fun!
  • The University’s campus is equipped with all sorts of group study spots, and my favorites are at the Iowa Memorial Union!
  • This is also a great opportunity to get to know your classmates by going out to get coffee or food.

10.) Independently study

  • Studying alone is a great way to stray from distractions. If you want a completely private study spot, click here to reserve a student space.

Study Spots at the University of Iowa

Have you found your favorite study spot on campus yet? Looking to change things up a bit? Check out some of my favorite study spots below!

Student involvement at the University of Iowa

Coming from a smaller high school, I was able to participate in just about every club my school offered. However, I knew in college I was going to have to find out specifically what I was interested in, because there were going to be a lot more options on the table and it would be impossible to be involved in everything. I looked at what I participated in high school, and out of these activities, I personally enjoyed National Honors Society, Key Club, and Dance Team the most. In all honesty, I wanted to continue these activities, and in college it is possible, but in a different form.

How to get involved:

I highly recommend going to a student organization fair to browse options and check out specific student organizations. The University of Iowa’s Fall of 2020 Student Organization fair has passed, but you can view all of the organizations here. This is how I found contact information for a handful of student organizations I knew I was interested in, and how I explored my options. Looking through these organizations really helped me decide what I wanted to truly be a part of.

In addition to the complete list of organizations, students will get emails directly from a variety of clubs sent to their student email addresses. Going through these emails (as tedious as it sounds) will help you look more in-depth at what various student organizations support and do around Iowa City. Going through all emails provides another outlet for students to get involved on campus. Often job opportunities, volunteer positions, and social event information are sent to student email addresses.

Intramural sports are another way to get involved on campus in a sport of your choice. Anything you can imagine from esports to intramural volleyball is offered, so there seems to be something for everyone. More can be read about intramural sports here.

Finally, After Class is a great webpage to look at what’s going on around campus. Much of the intramural sports, social events, on-campus job advertisements, and even event fairs (such as the study abroad fair) are featured on this website. It is great for students wishing to get involved on campus, even just to get out for one night as an impromptu decision. There is probably something going on.

What I got involved in and how:

  • Phi Sigma Pi (PSP) is an honors fraternity I found that reminds me of National Honors Society, but I think PSP seems to have a broader reach than National Honors Society because it seems to be more relationship focused. In this group, friendships and connections seem to be built all over the place as leadership, scholarship, and fellowship is explored. I found this student organization by checking my student email, but it is also listed on the complete list of student organizations.
  • Alpha Phi Omega is another fraternity on campus, but this one is a service fraternity (all about volunteerism). This is one of the student organizations I knew about prior to attending the student organization fair since an advisor from my high school recommended to me (I am an avid volunteer in my community back home). So, if you are into volunteering, I highly recommend checking this group out.
  • Circle K is a student organization that is in close relation to the high school clubs titled Key Club. Circle K is simply the college equivalent of this group if you are familiar with that high school club, but if not, it is another volunteering group.
  • Medicus and the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) are two groups that I stumbled upon while browsing the complete list of student organizations. Both of these groups focus on pre-health students, guide them through some processes in relation to their academic track, and provide countless resources to help distribute beneficial information about the pre-health tracks and career fields.
  • The University of Iowa Dance Club is another group I just happened to stumble upon during a student organization search. Since I knew I loved dance in high school, I wanted to continue my experience in college and I found this group as the perfect way to do so. This student organization holds dance classes of multiple styles throughout the week, and functions off of a schedule where you simply show up to whatever class you desire to take. This could be one class a week, or ten! Personally, I love the aspect of schedule flexibility in this student organization, because it allows me to spend time doing other things around campus as well.

  • The Microbiology Undergraduate Student Association is a student organization I joined to be more in close relations to my major. I found this student organization during the student organization fair, but it is listed on the student organization list as well. As a microbiology major, I joined this group to find people who not only share the same academic interests as me, but also possible career paths.
  • Dance Marathon is the largest student organization on campus, and I joined because I have a passion for helping anyone in need. Being able to raise money for kids in need, help families in the pediatric hospital on campus, and being a part of a group dedicated strictly to this sparked my interest. Of course the big event (a 24-hour dance marathon) sounds impossible to miss as well! I heard about this student organization when I toured Iowa, and it comes up quite often in conversations and through media.

Overall, the University of Iowa hosts countless opportunities for student involvement, but not solely in student organizations. Finding something to do here is easy, because as a student you just have to figure out what you would like to participate in. If it isn’t an option, you can make it one.