AAA #28

Q1: I have been behind on all of my lectures since Ori! Please send help!

Hello! First of all, thank you for stepping up to help with the J1s’ Orientation — we all appreciate it! Lectures have definitely become quite different from what we would normally expect, and even though some subjects have resumed normal lectures, some still remain asynchronous. Trying to keep up with lectures has been very difficult, and it’s even more so for people who took part in orientation. You have our sympathies! Hopefully we’ll be able to provide some tips that can help you catch up with your work.

For starters, while this might sound like obvious advice, remember to read through and annotate your notes first, highlighting points that you think are important and making sure you have a brief idea of the topic before you start watching the lecture. While this might feel like it takes up even more time, it helps to have a broad picture to provide context for each part of the lecture, and this helps you to minimise moments where you get confused by what the lecturer is saying and have to rewind. Overall, it helps you to get the most out of watching the lecture, and overall, makes sure that you know your content better and be more familiar with the content that you’re trying to catch up on.

Furthermore, while the number of lectures can look staggering, especially for subjects where they break up lectures into different parts, it is possible to speed up the lectures. This method may not work for everyone, admittedly, but if you have already read through the content and you are somewhat familiar with it, you can speed up the lectures a little, and slow down at parts that might take longer to digest. Overall, everyone has their own pace for absorbing information, but if you have prepared yourself before the lecture, it can be easier to listen to it at a faster pace and go back to slow down the parts that you may not have understood. On the flip side, if the reason you can’t catch up on the lecture is because you keep having to rewind because it is too fast, you can also slow down the video so that you can absorb it more easily, without being constantly confused. Find your best speed that works!

Lastly, if you’re struggling with the lecture content, it might also be because of the tutorials that you missed. Your teachers might have mentioned things in class to make some of the information more digestible, or answered questions from your classmates that might be similar to the things that you’re confused about. Therefore, if needed, you can go for a consultation with your teachers to answer any questions about your content or about any new skills that you might have needed to pick up. One of the flaws when it comes to recorded lectures is that you can’t really ask questions during the lecture to clarify what you need to know, which is why it is important to take the initiative to ask your teachers for help.

Hopefully, this was able to help you out. Keep on going! It might feel like an uphill battle to fight right now, but eventually, you’ll be able to catch up and emerge on top. We believe in you!

Q2: I’m very nervous about starting CCA. Any tips for settling in and interacting with new seniors and peers?

Hello! Now that Orientation has ended and you have all settled into your new classes and gotten used to your timetables, it’s time for CCA to start! Whether you are in a different CCA from secondary school, or continuing with the same one, it is perfectly normal to be nervous about starting your new CCA in JC. Getting adapted to a new environment is never easy but fret not as we are here to help you! 

As you go for your first CCA session, keep in mind that it is your peers’ first session as well, and they will tend to be pretty nervous too. Talking to them about school and things in common would be a good way to start a conversation with them! If they seem standoffish or cold at the start, try to be patient with them — it takes time for everyone to slowly open up. As you guys spend more time together as the weeks go by, the interactions you have with your CCA mates will definitely be less awkward! 

Your seniors will definitely encourage you to interact more with everyone, including themselves, and while they may seem busy with school and leading the CCA, you can always feel free to talk to them during CCA! I’m sure they would be more than happy to talk to you and help you out as you get settled into this new environment. If they may seem unfriendly at first, try to empathise; they may be going through or just ended tests and the stress may not have fully worn off yet. 

Striking up a conversation is not as tough as it may seem! Since you are all in the same CCA, you are bound to have common interests of some kind so you can simply begin with basic questions about your CCA (For example, if you were in Press, you could ask questions about writing; if you are in a sports CCA, you could ask about that specific sport; etcetera). If you’re in a CCA that has a major competition this year, like SYF or A-Divisions, try to offer your best effort as that will surely help break the ice — and your seniors would appreciate the relief! 

It can definitely be very intimidating to start out in a new space, but it is impossible to remember that you are not starting alone. Even finding just two or three people you can talk to and gravitate towards during CCA is good enough for a start! The rest will follow eventually, as long as you put in the effort to talk to your CCA mates. Hopefully, it doesn’t seem as insurmountable a task to begin CCA and you are able to better settle into your CCAs. Good luck, and have fun!

Q3: Is there any way to relieve stress without getting too distracted or wasting too much time?

Hello there! Firstly, we understand that the JC life is rather tough and strenuous and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed just from the sheer workload. This is a very normal feeling though so I would like to assure you that it’s alright to feel stressed. You just have to find out which de-stressing method works the best for you. 

If you’re in the middle of doing your work or a project and you find yourself getting overwhelmed, an immediate solution that you can try would be taking a step back and spending a few minutes gathering your thoughts. Literally — take a minute or two to think through the situation, and constantly remind yourself that whatever the situation, you can manage it! You can try to count up from 0-100 slowly too. This takes your mind off of whatever you’re stressing about and acts as a simple activity that you can put all your focus into easily allowing you to collect yourself quickly. The initial idea of this may sound like a waste of time but we assure you that it can work really well if you give it a chance!

Another way you can destress would be halting whatever work you’re doing at that point in time and try doing another subject’s work. Sometimes it could just be the case where a particular subject tires you out excessively and continuously working on it may feel like a burden. I understand that if you’re weak in a subject you would want to work on it more, but if it affects your mental health excessively it’s alright to take a break and get back to it later. 

A caveat: these are only short-term solutions. In a JC setting, it’s best to manage your stress by managing efficient use of your time. When you get new work, immediately add it into your schedule of things to do and allocate a date and time for you to sit down and get it done. Once you plan everything out (without appropriate breaks as you see fit) you will find your life and your workload more manageable. Organising your work immediately would also let you see when your breaks are, allowing you to act accordingly and go out for a quick lunch and a breath of fresh air so that you’ll be able to get back to your work speedily and efficiently. If you’re facing struggles organising your work, we recommend using the Google Calendar app. One of our authors has found it simple to use and effective in organising her own workload as well!

I hope these suggestions have helped you with your issue and it has normalised stressful situations for you as well. It’s okay to get stressed and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and if relieving stress helps you continue with your work and go about your day, it isn’t a waste of time that you need to be worried about! I wish you good luck with trying these out and hopefully a few of these suggestions helps you out!

Q4: I really need help for my studies but I’m afraid to consult my teachers!

Hello! I know that as academic pressure on us increases, it gets harder to deal with it all by ourselves and even though we know we need help, we may be fearful of wasting the time and effort of our teachers, after they have already gone through a topic for instance. However, rest assured there is nothing wrong with approaching anyone for help when we really need it because it is one of the best possible ways to clarify doubts and help us to improve — officially, no one other than your teacher knows the syllabus better. However, if you are deeply uncomfortable approaching your teachers, there are a few ways for you to circumvent this. 

For one, you could instead approach your classmates for help during lessons. When there is a concept you do not understand during lessons, ask your deskmate (nicely!) to explain it to you either at that point of time, or perhaps after the lesson has ended. This ensures you do not miss out on what knowledge skills you would have gained from the lesson. 

Another thing you could do is to form a study group with friends in class or even outside class if they take the same subjects as you. This is just so that you do not feel alone in the challenges you face and you have a group of people present to support you academically. You can help each other with homework or mutually clarify doubts that you may have with each other. Seeing your friends work hard will encourage you to work hard too, and achieve your academic goals in the process. 

Additionally, if you are fearful of confronting teachers face-to-face, you could instead send them a text or email when you have a query and they can get back to you on it online. This would save you the trouble of actually going up to them after lessons when you are uncomfortable doing so. Also, you would still be able to seek your teacher’s guidance through this alternative method. 

Lastly, if you are only uncomfortable going up to your teacher because you do not want to be alone in doing so, you could perhaps get a small group of 2 to 3 classmates to come along with you so that your consultation does not seem so daunting. You could each clarify your doubts and learn from your teacher together. Having a group of peers by your side will certainly help to put you at ease.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you! Good luck for your academic endeavours! You’ve got this!

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