From high school to university: the reading

Uni reading? Ain't nobody got time fo dat, by Amanda generated on imgflip.com

Dear first year uni students

Whether this is your first or second semester, you should by now have figured out one of the main differences between high school and university.

The amount of reading.

You could freak out and not read anything, or burn yourself out and read everything in one sitting. Or. You could calm down and plan your reading.

At first, managing the amount of reading for uni classes is a bit stressful, especially if you’re working or if you’re involved in some other activity outside of uni.

But the key to planning your reading is to work out how much time you need to read a certain amount of text, and whether this time changes if the content bores or interests you.

Timing yourself is a good way to plan your reading. Find two pieces of text that are similar in length, perhaps magazine articles. One should highly interest you, and the other you should not want to read. Ever.

Now sit down. Shut up. And read.

Keep reading.

Done? Great.

Now, how long did it take you to read each piece? The piece you didn’t find interesting probably took you longer to read than the piece you really enjoyed. Unfortunately, you are going to come across the first kind of text a lot at uni. Especially in those core classes that only generally relate to your course, and don’t contribute specialised knowledge to your field of interest.

So now that you know how long it will take you to read a certain length of text, apply this to all of your class readings and incorporate reading sessions into your schedule.

A good way to do this, especially if the readings really do not interest you, is to break them up into sizable chunks, and give yourself small breaks, or rewards, in between each section. I still use this method now, in my third year.

For example, I just finished a 14-page reading, the content of which I found interesting, but which wasn’t presented in a particularly interesting way.

I read about a third last night, stopping when I reached a point where I realised I wasn’t taking in what I was reading. The rest I read in one sitting earlier today, and rewarded myself by watching a few skating videos on YouTube.

So, in summary:

  • Time yourself reading to gauge how long it will take to read lengths of text,
  • Break down the reading into sizable chunks, and
  • Give yourself breaks and rewards between each chunk to refresh your brain.

Happy reading.

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