Phi-Alpha Frater Shares Tips For Academic Success
This article is written by Gavin Hannasch of Phi-Alpha Chapter at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Frater Hannasch is a Mechanical Engineering major with a minor in mathematics and is sharing his tips for academic success with TKE Nation
If you have an idea for an article, or would like to share your knowledge with TKE Nation, please reach out to us at TKEOGC@TKE.org. We would love to learn more!
College life: a mix of studies, work, and forgetful weekends. It is often said that it is the most ex-pensive good time anyone will ever have. Coming into my first semester of college, I was a green-horn. With no idea what I was signing up for but full of ambition and surety in myself.
"Take it easy on yourself your first semester" were the first words of advice I was given by a fac-ulty member at UAA. Needless to say, I didn't listen. I took some challenging courses. Including a hybrid chemistry class, where the professor was nonexistent and teaching myself became the norm. To top it off, I had a two-hour commute every day I went to campus -and worked 20+ hours per week.
My name is Frater Gavin Hannasch, a Mechanical Engineering major with a minor in mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I challenged myself early in my college career through a mixture of inexperience and self-confidence. And though it may seem I set myself up for failure, I persevered. I passed every single one of my classes with nothing less than an 85%, earning myself a 3.71 GPA.
How did I balance everything, and still manage to make the Dean's List? More importantly, how can you take the lessons I have learned and apply them to your life? The answer is simple and is a legacy passed down to us by our late Frater, Jonathan Goode. It has been passed down to me through my Fraternity Family Tree and we affectionately call it "WhyPhy." This method of staying focused is Frater Goode's legacy within our chapter.
Work Hard, Yes. Play Hard, Yes.
It is a simple principle that many collegiate and even alumni are familiar with. But how many practice it, every minute of every day? In order to achieve my results, I hold my self to a strict standard. If I want to be able to have down time, where I can relax and "have the most expensive good time of my life," I have to earn it.
I worked hard first so I could play hard next. A habit that may be difficult to start, but pays off ten-fold for those who do. For example, halfway through the fall semester, I was told I needed to take a physics placement exam. I crash studied all week, and when my brothers in the Phi-Alpha Chapter invited me to an event, I turn them down. I kept my eye on the prize and I stayed home to study. Events come and go, I had one shot at this exam.
There is a time to relax and there is a time to buckle down. Know the difference, execute accordingly, and success will follow.
Don't mistake this for an all work and no play scenario. "WhyPhy" is all about balance. I do socialize and attend events regularly. If I hadn't, I would have gotten burned out very quickly. Give and take: Balance.
"WhyPhy" reminds me that I am a student first, with the goal of walking across a stage and receiving my degree.
Now that you understand the theory, let's discuss the practice. Take an inventory of your schedule, identify the times when working is the most effective use of your time. During the week is when I would do all of my studying, and sometimes before and after chapter meetings on Sunday evenings. These are my Work Hard days.
Next, free yourself from distraction. Unless you live under a rock, there will be distractions. My strategy was to find a study room, turn on music, and get to work. Sometimes that meant I would be on campus until early morning hours and get two hours of sleep before the next day. Again, find your balance here. Not everyone is cut out to put their best foot forward when sleep deprived.
Use your resources. These are different for everyone. I found it helpful to use the whiteboards in the study room to highlight any key points in the chapters I was studying. I would then review them when I finished reading the chapter I was studying that night. Taking notes and creating visuals is a tried and true method of information retention. Find a method that works for you. Do not over-rely on your brain to instantly retain what you see or hear.
Make sacrifices. I sacrificed sleep often, but your mileage may vary. Maybe you sacrifice seeing the latest episode of your favorite show. Maybe you have to miss a game here and there. The decision is up to you.
People often complain that there isn't enough time in the day to do everything. Find the time. I found it by telling myself that those people also sleep away 8 of those hours. Sacrificing sleep and capitalizing on the day kept me ahead of the curve and all of my assignments complete. It also left time on the weekends for fun and laughter.
Embrace the challenge. If it was easy, everyone would do it. If I could suggest anything to a Frater struggling with grades, it is definitely to keep WhyPhy in mind, and the rest will follow.