Student studying

Ah . . . final exams are over and you’re ready to close the book on subject X and relax. School’s out, after all, and you deserve a break.

I hear you — but wait! By pausing to take just one more end-of-semester step, you can create a very helpful reference for yourself. Save this information and it’s quite likely you’ll be able to use it in studying for future classes, in compiling your résumé or portfolio, and perhaps even in writing requests for recommendation letters or scholarship applications.

Best of all, this end-of-term activity is fairly easy to do while classes are still fresh in your head:

For each class you had, compile a one-page summary of what you learned.

A few guidelines:

*if you have a course syllabus, start there. A syllabus typically lists the course objectives and a list of units and assignments, so you can use this information as an outline.

*whether or not you have a syllabus, go through your textbook and class notes unit by unit. Look for major concepts and lessons, taking note of what particularly challenged you and what particularly stood out for you in any way.

*make note of any special projects you did: perhaps a major research paper or oral presentation, for instance. Any such projects serve to build your skills (e.g., in writing, research, or verbal communication).

*you might include a brief reflection, as well: what did you practice repeatedly in the class? How do you think you improved? What were your major mistakes and frustrations? How might you build upon your progress in the future?

While these one-page summaries do indeed have practical applications, remember they are primarily for your own benefit (most likely, you’ll be the only one ever to see them). But the activity of processing your recent learning is worthwhile in any case; and considering that you already devoted hard work and time to learn, you owe it to yourself to “save” your academic memories in an efficient, organized way.

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