Zoe's Top Tips

Background: Zoe is a Penji tutor and a pre-med student at CU Boulder who's doing a great job of balancing school and everything else in life. She's into lots of stuff outside of school - reading, riding horses, cooking, etc.. A rigorous workload doesn't have to destroy the rest of your life. Her tips on keeping that balance are super valuable.


Figure out the best ways for you to relieve stress. This may be jogging, journaling, talking with a friend or binging Netflix. Figure out what works for you and make sure to fit it in.

If you're stressed or feel behind, it takes discipline to keep yourself healthy and happy, but that's when it's the most important. Observe which things help the most with stress. For me, Netflix isn't actually great, but a walk or bike ride helps. But for some people, a little Arrested Development to lighten the mood does the trick. Find your stress reliever!!

Bribe yourself. If you’re struggling to stay motivated or you have a rough week of tests coming up, keep track of how often or how long you’re studying and do something fun when you reach a certain goal.

This is the practical application of the tip above. Build in little rewards to your day to keep yourself going. You'll reduce stress levels while actually improving the efficiency of time worked later.

Study smarter, not harder. Be strategic about what you study, focusing on what you don’t know well or what you know will be more prominent on your test.

Definitely. It can be easy to just want to "dive in", thinking that working hard or long = success. Not true. Invest some time to estimate the importance of each topic on the exam; compare that with your comfort level on topics. Allocate your study hours to get comfortable on the most important topics.

To get the most from study groups, choose your study group wisely and review the material on your own beforehand so you can come with specific questions.

A comment on the last half regarding reviewing the material yourself. This is especially great because, if you're more prepared than your group, you can teach them the material. There is strong evidence that TEACHING material is the most effective way to solidify info. Once you teach your peers, you're not forgetting it. That's a perk of study groups.

If a test doesn’t go well, take the opportunity to talk to your professor, get advice or change your approach. Don’t just keep doing what you did before and don’t assume that one bad score ruins your chance to do well in that class.

Really good advice. Any activity worth caring about deserves both time before (prioritizing and planning) as well as time after (reflecting on how it went). It may feel like a waste of time, but studying the results and how you could have performed better will pay off in future efforts.