5 Ways to Backup Assignment Files

October 2016 5 Ways to Back Up Files imageAfter completing three years of university, and a decade of grade school before that, I have come to learn that one of the biggest universal fears among students is the terror that follows the loss, or potential loss, of an assignment. 

Because of this, I wanted to write a post about 5 ways I go about backing up my files so that I am spared the frantic search through recovered files for my assignment, or dread of having to re-write the assignment if it is lost in the void. 

1. Email to Yourself

I love doing this because it is so quick and easy. The only downside is that it can clog up your inbox if you have a lot of drafts for one assignment or multiple assignments on the go. However, once the assignment is completed and handed in, you can always go through your inbox and simply delete the drafts, keeping a final copy just in case. 

2. Backup on a USB Drive

This is a super handy way to not only back up an projects or assignments you may be working on, but also to transport them. USB drives are especially helpful when working on a group project because each member can write their own portion and bring them to a group meeting on a USB drive where they can be put on the same computer and combined. Of course, just make sure you keep the USB drive in a safe place like on your keychain or in your pencil case, because the only flaw in this system is if the USB goes missing. 

3. Transfer to a Hard Drive

This is a great long-term solution for keeping all your assignments saved and secure. For instance, I am still using the laptop I got back in 8th grade and it had a ton of files on it from my high school years that I didn’t need to be bringing to university with me everyday. So, I purchased a hard drive, transferred all my files onto it, and then deleted the vast majority of them off my laptop. Now I have much more free space on my laptop and a backup of all of my assignments. 

4. Print Out Drafts Throughout Writing Process

This is not the most environmentally-friendly way to back up files, and can be time-consuming depending on the length of the assignment due the time required to re-type out the draft if it did get lost, but it is a sure way to have hard copies of an assignment and ensure that no technology gets in the way. 

Drop in the Cloud

The cloud is probably the easiest and best way to back up your files. As much as I don’t like the idea of my documents floating around the digital atmosphere, I am forced to admit that dropping assignments in the cloud is a good way to save them, access them anywhere, and send them to others. 

How do you back up your files???

5 Tips for Creating a Course Schedule

Good morning!!! 

Earlier this month, I received an email from the university about my registration date for courses: June 17th at 9:30am. I already have my alarm and backup alarm set to ensure I am up in plenty of time with my schedule in hand so I can register for the courses I want to take as soon as possible before they fill up. I know I can always change them but I have a huge fear of not getting into classes. 

While I have now mapped out three (soon to be four) years of courses, I wanted to write this post for anyone new to university or looking to maximize their course schedule. So, without further ado, here are my 5 tips for creating a course schedule: 

1. Make a list of all the required courses and block them in first.

I am guilty of this, but sometimes I schedule in electives that I really want to take before I block in required courses I have to take for my degree. However, some required courses may only be offered at certain times or in certain terms and should be planned around before electives that could be taken anytime. 

2. Leave yourself some time in between.

Typically, classes are scheduled so that there is 10 minutes to travel between them, but it is so not ideal if you have to sprint across campus to get to your next class. To avoid this, I like to note the building the class is located in so that I can plan classes close by immediately following. Personally, I like having blocks of time in between classes for readings, homework, and relaxation, but for other people it is best to have all their courses back-to-back so they can head home immediately after.

3. Work around your schedule, not your friends’.

I love being in classes with my friends as much as anybody, but at the same time, my schedule comes first. If I can be in a class with a friend that works for me, then that’s great, but I don’t want to rearrange my entire schedule so we can be in the same class.

4. Think about transit.

If you take the bus or other modes of transport to school, consider how long it will take you to get to school and what a realistic start time is. For instance, I try to avoid 8:30am classes because it is no fun waking up at 5am to get an early bus to campus.

5. Consider the workload.

Many course outlines from previous terms can be easily found through a quick Google search. This is especially helpful if a course is offered by multiple professors. Rate My Professors is a great way to research which professor might be best for you, and a previous course outline from their class will indicate how they like to allocate marks. I am someone who likes having my grade come from multiple sources: assignments, online quizzes, in-class participation, and exams. For others though, three exams and a final is just fine. But a mix of both types of courses makes for a manageable workload. 

What are some of your tips for mapping out a course schedule??? 

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5 Things I Do in the Final Week of Classes 

  Today is my final day of spring term classes!!! 

I have loved my courses, but I am looking forward to being able to study in my pajamas and bake cupcakes during my breaks. Until I can do that though, there are five things I like to do in the final week of classes so I thought I would share them here 🙂 🙂

1. Locate all my notes

No matter how organized I am, a few pesky pages of notes or handouts get misplaced. In the final week, I gather all my notes from the term together, separate them into classes, and figure out any gaps. Before friends go back home or get tucked into their study caves, I want to make sure that I have everything I will need to prepare for finals. 

2. Read through notes and mark with questions 

While classes are still in session and professors and TAs still have office hours, I like to read through all my notes and mark any questions I have so I can get them resolved as early as possible. There is nothing worse to me than studying for a final and then finding a giant hole in my notes about a topic I thought the prof would elaborate upon but never did. 

3. Clean Up My Computer Desktop

Maybe this is just me, but I have a terrible habit of dragging links and folders onto my desktop for easy access and then never putting them where they belong in my university folder, or just never trashing them. Before I sit down at my desk to study for finals, I like to make sure that everything is in its place to avoid the panic that accompanies a missing assignment. 

4. Stock Up on Post-It Notes and Erasable Pens

Post-it notes are my study strategy go-to because I can colour code things, flag important sections in textbooks, summarize chapters, and so much more. Between post-its, highlighters, and coloured pens for headers, definitions, etc. my notes are essentially a mini rainbow of information. Haha takes the learning rainbow to a whole other level. And erasable pens are my saving grace. I used to go through white out like it was going out of style because I like my notes to be scribble-free but now I get the dark lines of pen writing without the hassle or waste of white out. I know I could write in pencil instead, but as a leftie, my writing often smudges and I can’t stand the look of blended pencil on a page, or on the side of my hand. 

5. Map Out a Study Schedule for Final Exams 

Classes let out on a Monday April 4th this term, and exams start up on Thursday April 7th. Usually exams are scattered across several days in the exam period, and this can create the false illusion that I have more study time than I actually do. I make a calendar of each day in the exam period, block off the days I have for exams and the days immediately before for relaxation, and then schedule in study time for each of my exams. Not only that, but I detail what I am going to do each day like draft essay answers or create concept maps for a certain number of chapters. Keeping these goals on-task and realistic gives me a sense of accomplishment when I complete them and can check them off, and it keeps me focused to avoid the last-minute panic of night before studying. 

What do you do in the final week of classes???

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5 Things I Do Over Reading Break

Afternoon, everyone!!!

Yesterday was the first official day of my week-long hiatus from university, otherwise known as Reading Break, which is akin to the secondary school Spring Break. I do so love Reading Break because it offers an oh-so-delightful reprieve from the university schedule and, despite what the name implies, I do not know many people who actually read during this time. However, it is a great time to do a few little things to keep you on track at school and not end up freaking out in the last weeks. Some of you may remember my post on the 5 things I do at the start of each school term, so I wanted to follow up with a post on the 5 things I do over Reading Break.

1. Organize my notes

While some of you may still have midterms looming in the first week back to school, I was fortunate enough this term to get all mine over with before Reading Break. While this was nice in a way because now I can enjoy my week off, it also means that my notes are in a right state of disarray. I use Reading Break as a chance to sit down, sort out my notes into piles for each class, and then file them away for when I need to study them for final exams. I also like to read through them all for a quick review and to flesh out any ideas or fill in any sentences that start out like this “Two main problems with categorical perception as evidence for human specialization for language are . . . ” but have no ending. That little fact might just turn up on a test.

2. Get a head start on assignments and projects

I know no one likes to think about doing more schoolwork on their time off, but it is really advantageous to even map out an outline for an essay, a draft for a research paper, or a rough idea of an in-class presentation. This week, I have been madly at work on a journal article summary that I have to present to my class in two weeks, mini assignments for my class on psychological disorders in adulthood, and a corpus analysis project that isn’t due until the last day of classes but I never know what my wireless internet will be like. For all I know, it’ll go on strike when I need it most and I’ll have to resort to typing out my summary on my old Underwood typewriter. Not knocking typewriters, but the backspace button on a keyboard is much more convenient if I make a mistake.

3. Tidy my study space

This one is similar to 1. in that my desk is a right mess once reading break comes along. There are sticky notes everywhere, snacks stashed on every shelf, and pen caps that have mysteriously vanished. Before I get back into the groove of sleep, eat, study, repeat I want to make sure my desk and bedroom are restored to a state of organization I can live with.

4. Sit down with a good book

With all of the assigned textbook readings for classes, what little spare time I have left is not often spent reading some more, even for pleasure. Thus, I have been at the same spot in Margaret Atwood’s book The Heart Goes Last, and I am dying to know how it ends (no spoilers!!!). Well, now I can actually sit down and finish it without it hurting my head and competing with all my school stuff for space in my brain.

5. Plan out some blog posts

I have been making a list of things I want to post about throughout this week, and have drafted a few of them to get my inspiration flowing. By the time school is back in session, there may be an inspiration drought, and I do not want my posts to come to a halt because all I have on my mind is which inflectional affixes children acquire first when learning language or the difference between exogenous and endogenous orienting to space.

What are you up to over Reading Break???

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5 Things I Do at the Start of Each School Term

Hello there lovely readers!!!

I had my first day of the Spring 2016 university term on Monday, and I am already excited for the next 13 weeks of classes. I know that sounds weird, but when you’re a Psychology and Linguistics nerd, small things fascinate you and you can spend days analyzing an utterance like “I can’t even” without getting bored.

The first three weeks of university are usually pretty slow, with professors starting to delve into new material, course loads being shuffled, and no midterm in sight. It’s really tempting to pilfer away this time, which is exactly what I did in my first year, and I instantly regretted it when the first wave of midterms hit me. So, while this is a time to blog more, read more, and cherish the last weeks of social life, here is my list of five things I do at the start of each term to prepare:

1. Create a Master Syllabus

What is this, exactly??? Well, it is a page-long list, organized by month, of all of the important course dates for all classes over the course of the term. It provides an easy way to quickly glance at deadlines, cross off completed items (so satisfying), and identify gaps of days that can be used to catch up, or get ahead in, classwork. I also find it really helpful to put the weight of each assignment and test in brackets so I can keep track of grades.

2. Organize my planner

This one is huge for me because I find it both cathartic and necessary to map out my study time to ensure I’m using it well. Using a day planner, I keep track of everything I have to do, with separate columns for appointments, assignments, and the sliver of life leftover. This way I never forget to do something or be somewhere and, once again, I get the euphoric rush that comes with crossing something off my list (or, in some cases, scratching the name of the item in Sharpie repeatedly out of spite).

3. Buy my textbooks

I know a lot of people who purchase their textbooks over the Christmas holidays, and even a few people who purchase their textbooks in September for the winter and spring terms all at once. Me, I like to wait until the first week because I tend to change up my schedule a lot. In the event that I decide to drop a course it will be because of one of three reasons:

a) It was meant to be an elective and doesn’t look nearly as interesting as I thought it would be.

b) It is taught by a professor whose teaching style I know won’t work for me, or

c) After getting all the course outlines and creating my Master Syllabus, the workload looks like it will be too much, so I swap out a course for another, less demanding one.

Regardless of which of these reasons motivates me to change my schedule, I don’t want to deal with any of the issues that can arise when trying to return a textbook to the school bookstore. If you are reading this and you are in high school, and therefore don’t have to worry about this, I envy you.

4. Get my desk set up

Turn your desk into the ultimate study space, stocked with pens, pencils, index cards, sticky notes, and a few snacks hidden here and there. Make sure you have a water bottle close by, because staying hydrated is key for a productive study session. Also, since you will be spending a lot of time at that desk, make sure it is at the right height for you, and that you have a comfortable chair. There are few things that irritate me as much as the discomfort characteristic of studying in a hunched over position for too long, or realizing too late that I was sitting at a weird angle and now my back is sore.

5. Decide how I plan to take notes in each class

To me, there are two main course styles: fact-based and idea-based. You may define these differently, but to me fact-based courses are those that involve memorization, like anatomy or history, while idea-based courses are those that involve understanding and applying concepts, like math or philosophy.

For fact-based courses, I really like using a coil-bound notebook so that all of my notes stay in one place and no stray piece of paper detailing key final exam information floats away on me. Index cards work really well for these courses, too, because you can use them to study word definitions, or to test your knowledge by summarizing a concept in its limited space.

For idea-based courses, I will either use coil-bound notebooks or loose paper on a clipboard depending on the speed at which the professor goes through the material. I don’t like leaving blank spaces in my notes that I have to fill in after class because the prof blew through an entire concept in one lecture, so for more fast-paced courses, loose leaf paper is the way to go. Highlighters and sticky notes are great for these types of courses because you can have little aside memos about things mentioned in class, or flag areas you want to study more.

I have written these five things from a university student perspective, but they also work really well for anyone in middle school or high school. A lot depends on your learning style though, so I’m curious: what do you do in your first week back at school to prepare for the term ahead???

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